Your smartphone can soon tell if you’re drunk beyond legally permissible limits using inbuilt smartphone accelerometers
If you have been binge drinking and are unsure of yourself, soon your smartphone will tell you if you are drunk. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have developed a proof-of-concept study that detected if the participants were drunk beyond acceptable legal levels using the inbuilt accelerometers in smartphones.
The researchers used the smartphone’s built-in accelerometer to sense gait impairments due to alcohol intoxication. Using this method, your smartphone can soon tell when you’ve had too much to drink by detecting changes in the way you walk, reveal researchers.
An accelerometer is an electromechanical device used to measure acceleration forces. Such forces may be static, like the continuous force of gravity or, as is the case with many mobile devices, dynamic to sense movement or vibrations. Acceleration is the measurement of the change in velocity or speed divided by time.
The research team led by Brian Suffoletto studied 22 adults between the ages of 21 and 43 and gave volunteers a vodka drink with enough alcohol to produce a breath concentration of 0.2%. In the United States the legal drink-drive limit, based on blood alcohol concentration per grams of alcohol in 100 ml of blood, is 0.08%. Participants had an hour to finish the vodka and then had their breath alcohol concentration analyzed hourly over seven hours as they performed a walking task, walking in a straight line for 10 steps, before turning around and walking back 10 steps. Researchers secured a smartphone to the participants’ lower back with an elastic belt. Using an app to record accelerometer data, the phones then measured acceleration, side-to-side, up-down, and forward and backward motions while participants walked.
Some 90% of the time, researchers were able to use changes in gait detected by the phone sensors and the app to identify when a person’s blood alcohol limit exceeded 0.08%.
“This controlled lab study shows that our phones can be useful to identify ‘signatures’ of functional impairments related to alcohol,” Suffoletto, who was with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine when the research was conducted and is now with Stanford University School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine, said in a statement.
Researchers say that the study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, is a “proof-of-concept study” that “provides a foundation for future research on using smartphones to remotely detect alcohol-related impairments.”