By Craig Boudreau
Researchers from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have invented a temporary tattoo-style patch that can detect the level of alcohol in a wearer’s system and send it directly to their phone or smartwatch.
The patch uses commercial tattoo-paper fitted with silver electrodes that creates a five-minute long current, which triggers a gel strip that releases a drug to induce sweat. Once the sweat comes into contact with the electrodes, it is able to gauge the level of alcohol in the wearers system, and sends the results to their phones or watches, according to a Wednesday Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Spectrum (IEEE) article.
“Right now, the tattoo is designed for one-time use,” Patrick Mercier, electrical and computer engineering professor at UCSD, told IEEE. “Place, detect, dispose.”
Researchers fitted nine volunteers with the patch both before and after consuming alcohol, and the results were an accurate reflection of alcohol levels in their systems.
There are other ways to assess alcohol levels, but both have drawbacks. Testing blood is the most accurate way to assess whether someone is drunk, but it is extremely invasive because it requires a finger-prick. This new technology would allow law enforcement the ability to accurately gauge the concentration of alcohol in someones system thru non-invasive means.
The patch would do away with the issue of false positives.
“Our sensor does not give those kinds of false positives,” Jayoung Kim, graduate student at UCSD’s Materials Science & Engineering Program, told The Daily Caller News foundation in an email.
“The reason is that breathalyzer’s measure alcohol vapor from mouth and environmental air. Our sensor measures alcohol in perspiration fluid.”
The personal breathalyzer market has seen serious growth over the past decade. ABC News said the market share was $27 million in 2005. PR Newswiresays the market for personal breathalyzers had spiked to $284 million in 2011, and they estimate that number to skyrocket to $3.2 billion by 2018.
The researchers are now working on a patch that could monitor alcohol levels around the clock, which could be used for research purposes.