Wow- a skin patch to monitor alcohol levels! Can you imagine the possible uses for a device like this! Science Daily has reported on the development by researchers at the University of California – San Diego of a ‘flexible wearable sensor that can accurately measure a person’s blood alcohol level from sweat and transmit the data wirelessly to a laptop, smartphone or other mobile device. The device can be worn on the skin and could be used by doctors and police officers for continuous, non-invasive and real-time monitoring of blood alcohol content.’
It incorporates the use of a temporary tattoo ‘which sticks to the skin, induces sweat and electrochemically detects the alcohol level — and a portable flexible electronic circuit board, which is connected to the tattoo by a magnet and can communicate the information to a mobile device via Bluetooth.’ The work, led by nanoengineering professor Joseph Wang and electrical engineering professor Patrick Mercier, both at UC San Diego, was published recently in the journal ACS Sensors.
According to the article ‘blood alcohol concentration can also be estimated by measuring insensible sweat – perspiration that happens before it’s perceived as moisture on the skin. But this measurement can be up to two hours behind the actual blood alcohol reading. On the other hand, the alcohol level in sensible sweat – the sweat that’s typically seen – is a better real-time indicator of the blood alcohol concentration, but so far the systems that can measure this are neither portable nor fit for wearing on the body.
The tattoo works by releasing pilocarpine to induce sweat. The sweat comes into contact with an electrode coated with alcohol oxidase, an enzyme that selectively reacts with alcohol to generate hydrogen peroxide, which is electrochemically detected. That information is sent to the electronic circuit board as electrical signals. The data are communicated wirelessly to a mobile device.’
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Reference: University of California – San Diego. “Flexible wearable electronic skin patch offers new way to monitor alcohol levels.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160802151324.htm>.