Science

'Wearable' tattoo that could detect alcohol levels

23 Oct 2016 | By Supriya Kaur

Scientists have developed a wearable patch resembling a tattoo which can be worn on the skin to detect alcohol-levels.

The device will be able to do so by analyzing body-sweat and transmitting the information to a smartphone via Bluetooth.

A device such as this could allow the wearer to keep a tab on their alcohol consumption and can massively reduce unsafe drinking and driving.

In context: Could scientists have developed a 'wearable' tattoo?

AboutThe drunk driving menace

In the United States alone, nearly 88,000 died from alcohol-related causes per year.

In 2013 and 2014, 10,076 and 9,700 were killed in drunk-driving crashes alone.

Law enforcement agencies have attempted to address the problem by using breathalyzers, however they are known to give false read-outs.

Reportedly there exist ways for a drunk driver to manipulate a breathalyzer test making it inefficient and unreliable.

23 Oct 2016'Wearable' tattoo that could detect alcohol levels

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How does it work?The alcohol detecting bio-sensor patch

Developed by scientists at the University of California, San Diego, the 'wearable tattoo' is actually a 'bio-sensor patch' that is embedded with several wireless components.

When worn, the patch 'releases' a chemical to stimulate perspiration on the skin beneath the patch.

Another component then detects changes in the electrical current flowing through the generated sweat and is able to measure alcohol levels.

Why is it unique?

Measuring alcohol via wearable-patches has been attempted before however those technologies could take 2-3 hours to calculate alcohol-levels. This bio-sensor patch can accomplish this in merely 8 minutes, making it ideal for real-time alcohol monitoring. It is also portable, non-invasive and not visible to others.

DetailsWho could benefit from using it?

The wearable device or patch could be used by doctors as well as law enforcement for real-time and non-invasive monitoring of blood alcohol content.

It would be ideal for someone on health programs to keep track of their alcohol consumption.

It could also be of immense value to people who need to determine their alcohol-concentration levels to ensure that it was safe to drive.

Integrate in car ignition?

Professor of nanoengineering and co-author of this study, Joseph Wang, said that in the future, this device could also be integrated with a car's ignition interlocks; it could prompt you of your alcohol levels and prevent you from driving in a drunken state.