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Blood Alcohol Testing with Temporary Tattoos

Blood Alcohol Testing with Temporary Tattoos

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Over the last several years there have been increased efforts to develop technology for blood alcohol testing, breathalyzing for drugs, and other innovations related to keeping people safe and helping keep drunk drivers and party-goers from engaging in risk behavior. There are cups that test drinks for being drugged. There are wrist-bands that monitor movement and keep friends connected when out and about. Every once in a while some new project emerges with the intent of protecting people who chose to drink and drug.

Now, a new blood alcohol testing method is hitting the scene in the form of groundbreaking temporary tattoo technology. The sensor is a skin patch, and the patch is designed to monitor blood alcohol content. The device transmits the info via Bluetooth to a mobile-device in minutes. All this is with the idea of keeping people aware of their intoxication in real time.

How the blood alcohol testing works…

This awesome new gadget is a flexible and wearable skin patch applied to keep track of how drunk you are. A quick step-by-step synopsis of the operation explains:

  1. Temporary tattoo sticks to the skin
  2. The patch induces sweat and its sensors pick up on it
  3. Patch then electro-chemically measures your blood alcohol content (BAC)
  4. Transmits the data to mobile devices

The team-up behind the tattoos…

This exciting innovation is being spearheaded by engineers from the University of California, San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. This extension of the UCSD is known as a leader in the field of wearable sensors; no surprise there. Head of the research and development team is:

  • Joseph Wang- Nano

Engineering professor with specialty in minimally-invasive electro-chemical sensing and bioelectronics. Dr. Wang told interviewers,

“[The temporary tattoo] is a follow-up of our glucose tattoo for diabetes and of our skin-worn sensors in general. We hope to expand to a larger population toward commercializations.”

  • Patrick Mercier

Electrical engineering professor with expertise in wireless communications, energy-harvesting integrated circuits and ultra-low-power systems. Mercier has stated,

“The alcohol sensor was developed over roughly a period of one year. We leveraged our existing experience in wearable chemical sensors to enable this rapid development. Non-invasive monitoring of BAC is an important topic for a wide variety of applications, and we were not satisfied with existing solutions, so we decided to modify our temporary tattoo sensing technology to see if it would be suitable to non-invasive alcohol monitoring applications.”

It would seem that so far their plan is working out pretty well. While nothing yet has official come to its fullest fruition, we can expect there will be great effort put into it.

Blood alcohol testing tattoo VS breathalyzers…

According to reports, this method actually outshines breathalyzers when it comes to the accuracy of blood alcohol testing. That is because breathalyzers don’t test the blood, they test the breath. So, they’re actually not all that accurate. Breath tests are enough to give law enforcement probable cause, but they’re not actually admissible in court.

The reason this new test is such a big deal is because blood tests on not easily performed on the fly. Drawing blood is unpleasant to say the least, and would be a huge inconvenience when dealing with someone who’s intoxicated.

The new temporary tattoo blood alcohol testing method would change all this by accurately measuring an individual’s BAC within a 15 minute period without needles.

Continued studies coming soon…

According to the press release from the Jacobs School of Engineering, the blood alcohol testing tattoo was tested on nine volunteers. Each wore the tattoo on their arms before and after consuming alcohol. The figures resulting from the sensors accurately reflected the wearer’s BAC and were not affected by the wearer’s movements.

While this does seem like a very small study, this sample group having such accurate readouts gives hope that with more development and more research the patches will prove to be just as reliable. Mercier tells interviewers there will be more controlled studies soon:

“As we continue to refine and optimize the device, we hope to perform larger studies,”

The research team does hope to go even further. They’re developing a patch to continuously perform blood alcohol testing while reporting those levels for an entire 24 hours!

Tattoos for safety…

This whole idea is a pretty impressive one when you put it in the context of safety. Since there is not much else on the market that could make the same boast about blood alcohol testing with accurate and on-the-spot info, this could be a new hope for the next level in public safety concerning drunk driving.

But beyond having police using these tattoos to test people, is it possible public access could benefit from having this blood alcohol testing tattoo? Absolutely! In theory, someone could wear a patch when they go out for a night on the town. Then with an app they could keep track of their own BAC on their smartphone. While some people might say they wouldn’t bother keeping track of their BAC at the bar, it may come in handy when some is trying to tell you not to drive home. It is another option in risk prevention, and might do more good than expected.

Drug and alcohol abuse hurt a lot more than people think. Not only do you damage your health, but you can damage the wellbeing, or even risk the lives of others. But there is a way out, but you have to take the right road. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588

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