Blood-Alcohol Content Content Measured By This Bracelet
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Groundbreaking Technology? This Bracelet Alerts You When You’re Starting to Drink Too Much


Singer Kelly Rowland, shoe detail, attends Safe Kids Day at Smashbox Studios on April 24, 2016, in Culver City, California. A study used an ankle bracelet to test blood-alcohol levels. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

In an article from “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research,” Researchers from Penn State’s Department of Biobehavioral Health tested an ankle bracelet that can detect blood-alcohol concentration by analyzing small quantities of sweat.

“Understanding how much alcohol you have consumed is nuanced,” said Michael Russell, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, who led the research project, according to Science Daily. “For example, if Person A drinks a 16-ounce pint of craft beer with a 10% alcohol content, Person B drinks a 12-ounce can of light beer with a 4% alcohol content, and Person C drinks a large mixed drink made with several types of liquor, how many drinks have they all had? What if Person A weighs 110 pounds, Person B 220 pounds, and Person C 185 pounds? Does the answer change?”

Blood-alcohol content can be estimated on the skin because 1% of alcohol consumed is excreted in sweat. Because the amount of alcohol in sweat is similar to the concentration in blood, transdermal sensors are a useful way to measure blood-alcohol content.

Sensors that measure alcohol concentration through sweat provide more data than periodic breathalyzer results, per Science Daily. Sensors can record peak intoxication levels, the rate at which someone becomes intoxicated, and how much alcohol was in a person’s system and for how long.

“By using wearable technology to predict alcohol-related consequences – which range from automobile accidents to hangovers to missing work and beyond – we can begin to prevent alcohol-related consequences,” Russell said. “Our research shows that wearable sensors can be used to help people understand when their drinking is becoming risky.

“‘How much have you had to drink?’ might seem like a simple question, but it is not always easy to answer,” Russell said.

This is because more goes into intoxication levels than the amount of alcohol consumed. Other factors include the speed at which a person consumed alcohol and what they had eaten recently.

Technology capable of measuring and even predicting blood-alcohol levels could be incredibly useful. Regret over drinking too much is common, as excessive consumption of booze causes problems of all shapes and sizes, ranging from poor judgment to hangovers to death.

According to The Drinks Business, the study suggested this wearable technology could be a useful addition to the smartwatch and jewelry sector down the line.

This research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Department of Biobehavioral Health.

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