Your phone could soon sense how drunk you are and stop you from driving, according to a new study
- Smartphones may soon be able to help sense when you've had too much to drink, according to a small new study.
- By sensing changes in how you walk, your phone could accurately predict when your blood
alcohollevel is over the legal driving limit, researchers found.
- This technology could potentially help prevent alcohol-related incidents such as drunk driving, without requiring a breathalyzer, and provide safety tips and social support to intoxicated people.
Scientists may have found a new way to prevent drunk driving without a breathalyzer, and it's already in your pocket.
Smartphones could help detect when someone is
That's the equivalent of about five to eights drinks (or more), depending on gender and body size, and well over the legal driving limit of .08.For most people, this amount of alcohol can cause dizziness, disorientation, and trouble standing. The researchers monitored participants over the next seven hours, measuring their blood alcohol level at baseline and every half hour. Every hour, participants had to complete a brief test where they attempted to walk 10 steps in a straight line, then turn and walk 10 steps back, with a smartphone attached to their lower back to measure movement.
Researchers found that they could accurately predict the intoxication level of participants based on phone data, which graphed measurements such as swaying back and forth, the length of each step, and relative speed.They could assess when someone was over the legal limit 90% of the time using this method. This study was limited in that it had a small number of participants, and most people don't carry their smartphone on their lower back. Still, it's promising evidence that the technique could be used to help people monitor their alcohol use in real-world situations.
In the future, phones could alert you when you're intoxicated
In practical terms, having your phone measure your drinking could prevent the many adverse effects of alcohol use, including drunk driving and other risky accidents, according to the study's lead author Dr. Brian Suffoletto, who completed the research at the University of Pittsburgh.
"I lost a close friend to a drinking and driving crash in college," Suffoletto, now an associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a press release. "And as an emergency physician, I have taken care of scores of adults with injuries related to acute alcohol intoxication. Because of this, I have dedicated the past 10 years to testing digital interventions to prevent deaths and injury related to excessive alcohol consumption."The data was collected from phones' accelerometers, a feature included in nearly every smartphone.
Next, researchers plan to test how well this works in real-world situations, and also develop strategies for intervention. In the future, it's possible that your phone could not only alert you periodically of how tipsy you're getting, but also offer resources to help, such as safety tips or a ride home.
For high-risk drinkers or those in recovery, it could even trigger a call to a sponsor or other social support.Read more:
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