Published: May 22, 2022 Last updated: August 10, 2023
Alcohol monitors that measure intoxication through the skin have produced ‘encouraging’ results in a scientific trial.
Developers have produced a wearable device that can calculate ethanol levels in the body secreted in sweat.
The aim is to allow wearers to use the monitor to gauge how drunk they are and let them know when they’ve had enough.
Researchers have now published a report on the suitability of the devices to help people moderate their drinking.
The technology is already being used by some police forces to tag repeat drink-drivers with ankle clamps similar to those used to track the movements of offenders.
Now manufacturers have come up with a version that can be worn discreetly like a watch and indicate when a drinker has reached their limit.
The product contains electronic messengers that pick up the chemical changes in sweat, body temperature and other indicators that result from consuming booze.
Information is then analysed through the device and data can be sent to a mobile phone where it can be interpreted to reflect the level of ethanol in the body.
The study involved heavy drinkers who were required to wear the bracelets and keep a drinking diary while the data was collected.
Researchers published their findings in May 2022 in the journal Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research produced by the US-based Society on Alcoholism organisation.
They noted that: ‘Alcohol use monitoring has many benefits, including identifying candidates for early intervention to promote moderation and abstinence, self-awareness, self-regulation … and legally enforced sobriety to protect the public.’
The potential was deemed to be ‘excellent’ for the product’s use in ‘the behavioural self-management space currently enjoyed by commercially available health/fitness biosensors’.
Manufacturers hope the product will eventually match the popularity of an existing range of armbands that record such things as physical activity and sleep quality.
It’s expected to be of some value to medics keeping tabs on patients’ drinking habits, drivers wanting to avoid breaking the law and social tipplers who feel the need for an electronic nudge to put the cork back in the bottle.
However it could be some time before drinkers can use such technology to help them decide when to call time on a session in the pub.
The study found the tools could not be relied upon to give consistently accurate readings due to battery failure and as a result of wear and tear from daily use.
The meters were also less accurate at detecting consumption of up to three standard drinks – higher than legal limits for driving in most countries.
Researchers concluded that further development would be required before the product should be considered ready for the general consumer market.
About The Author
Chris Humphreys is the co-founder of The Alcohol-Free Shop and AlcoholFree.com. She was a journalist for more years than she cares to remember. Ex-wife of an alcoholic, enthusiastic amateur musician and a passionate dog lover.