A new wearable tattoo can monitor alcohol level in sweat

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Flexible Wearable Electronic Skin Patch wearable tattoo

Alcohol can strongly influence our driving experience and cause car accidents. In the US, about 10,000 people die from drinking-related car crash in 2014. This problem has been addressed by the use of blood tests or breathalyzers by law enforcement.

Now researchers from University of California, San Diego develop a wearable tattoo-like device to monitor alcohol levels in sweat. The finding is published in the journal ACS Sensors.

The new device is like a temporary tattoo, but it is actually a biosensor patch embedded with some flexible wireless components.

One component releases a chemical that stimulates sweat on the skin below the patch, and another component monitor changes in the electrical current flowing through the generated sweat, and measures alcohol levels and sends them to the user’s smartphone.

Compared with blood tests or breathalyzers, this new wearable device is non-invasive and unseen by others. This means people can use it everywhere to self-monitor their alcohol intake, even in bars.

Previous research has tried to measure alcohol in sweat, but the technique took 2-3 hours to accurately measure alcohol levels.

Better than that, this new monitor can sense alcohol levels in only 8 minutes, and it makes real-time monitoring possible, practical, and personal.

Researchers suggest that this wearable device is a convenient method for individuals to monitor their alcohol intake, and it will help reduce unsafe drinking that can lead to vehicle crashes, violence, and the degeneration of the health of heavy drinkers.

The work is supported by the National Institutes of Health through the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.


Citation: Kim J, et al. (2016). Noninvasive Alcohol Monitoring Using a Wearable Tattoo-Based Iontophoretic-Biosensing System. ACS Sensors, 1: 1011–1019. DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.6b00356.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is credited to UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.