According to the World Health Organization, a person’s blood alcohol level mainly influences the severity of road traffic accidents – especially when it comes to crashes resulting in death. A drunken driver is 17 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than an unimpaired driver. Among the most common ways to measure the alcohol level during a traffic control is the breathalyzer, which checks a person’s sobriety via breath analysis. Actually, the blood alcohol level is the most precise indicator of a person’s intoxication. For a long time it has been necessary to take blood samples for this purpose, but now screen printing offers a more practicable solution.

Scientists from the University of California San Diego recently developed a new technology to easily measure a person’s blood alcohol concentration from sweat. Their flexible wearable sensor detects the blood alcohol level almost in real-time: Within 15 minutes it delivers the results, whereas established procedures take up to two hours. Consisting of screen-printed electrodes, which are powered by a printed electric circuit board, the skin patch electrochemically detects the alcohol in a person’s sweat.

The Printed Electrode’s Bluetooth Connection to Avoid Drunk Driving

Moreover, this method is innovative because it directly sends the information to electronic devices, as Somayeh Imani from the team around nano-engineering professor Joseph Wang and electrical engineering professor Patrick Mercier explains: “This device can use a Bluetooth connection, which is something a breathalyzer can’t do. We’ve found a way to make the electronics portable and wireless, which are important for practical, real-life use.“

This means that the wearable sensor can not only be used by doctors or police officers to monitor blood alcohol content, but also to send alerts to a smartphone to prevent persons from driving under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, its integration with a car’s alcohol ignition interlocks is possible. Currently, the engineers are working on expanding the electrode’s performance so it will be able to continuously sense alcohol levels for 24 hours.

What do you think? Is the skin patch capable of providing consumers a quick and simultaneously accurate way to measure their alcohol consumption? Will it help avoiding alcohol-related accidents?