Alcohol may come in a variety of different forms, from fine wine to cold ciders; the environment and situation which one consumes alcohol may vary from person to person. These days, alcoholic beverages tend to display a label indicating the number of alcohol units in each beverage. UK Chief Medical Officers (CMO) recommend keeping this level of units below 14 each week for those who drink on a regular basis. This guideline aims to help adults enjoy alcohol while remaining within a safe limit. By measuring alcohol unit consumption, adults may have a general idea of how much they may drink, yet a recent discovery seems to suggest a more accurate way of measuring alcohol intake.
Scientists from Florida International University (FIU) announced their electrical engineers may have created a wearable sensor which aims to provide an accurate reading of alcohol levels. The purpose of this wearable sensor seems to be to help individuals manage their alcohol intake by measuring their blood alcohol level. Engineers Yogeswaran Umasankar and Ahmed Jalal may have been at the forefront of this portable monitor which seems to be worn like a watch. The sensor aims to be worn on the wrist and monitors the skin, searching for signs of alcohol. According to the research published, this sensor seems to monitor vapours from the skin and sends this information to a server.
The data received from the skin’s vapour aims to make its way to a server where analysis may be made on the sample. The engineers claim their sensor is able to detect alcohol vapours from the skin within 15-20 minutes of consumption. Research assistant Yogeswaran Umasankar claims this sensor is calibrated to act like an electronic nose, detecting alcohol odour from the skin the moment the vapours begin to emit. If the data suggests the alcohol reading is high, a notification may be sent to a chosen friend or relative to check on the user. By implementing an early detection method in this way, inventor Shekhar Bhansali, an Alcatel-Lucent professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, claims this may be one step toward “active intervention which only requires the user wear the sensor.”
The engineers involved in this project seem to have developed the alcohol sensor from scratch. They may have begun creating the sensor by testing and calibrating the devices detection ability with a gas sensing setup. The research suggests the engineers were able to calibrate the device successfully and were able to read accurate alcohol levels. Once the core component of the device was proven to be in working condition, the engineers began working on the rest of the device, using a 3D printer to develop the interface for assembly. The inventor, Shekhar Bhansali, claims the purpose of this alcohol sensor was to “create an unobtrusive sensor which may be easy to wear.”
With smartwatches and activity trackers seemingly populating the field of wearable devices, this new alcohol sensor aims to be the latest wearable technology. With a purpose to monitor alcohol levels, this may help adults drink responsibly or those who might need a little extra help with excessive drinking. The researchers suggest this may find practical use in areas, such as college campuses, where social or binge drinking may occur regularly. Beyond curbing alcohol intake, this wearable sensor may be used to monitor liver transplant patients who are required to refrain from alcohol consumption. This may have widespread medical application when monitoring patients who may need to abstain from alcohol intake during recovery.
How might the invention of a wearable sensor help adults accurately monitor levels of alcohol consumption?