If you are a driver who consumed alcohol and want to avoid a DUI, you need an effective way to measure your blood alcohol level. Knowing your own blood alcohol level in a roadside situation is not a problem that can be solved easily. Some methods involve measuring blood alcohol level by taking a sample of blood, but many people are scared of such an invasive method. In contrast, measuring your blood alcohol level using a breathalyzer is also not the best way to determine the blood alcohol concentration because the breathalyzers can be very inaccurate. Other methods, which usually involve analyzing body fluids, are not simple enough to measure BAC (blood alcohol content) in roadside situation. Recent development in the science by a professor from the University of California in San Diego allows for a unique new way to measure the blood alcohol level (BAC). This method can help drivers be aware of their blood alcohol level and to prevent them from getting in trouble by alerting them to the risk of a DUI offense.
Patrick Mercier, an electrical and computer engineering professor at UCSD, realized that the blood alcohol concentration is one of the most effective way to determine if someone is impaired. He and his colleagues decided to improve BAC measuring with a new, easy-to-wear devices. Mr. Mercier and a UCSD nano-engineer Joseph Wang created several alcohol monitoring systems. One of the system involves a temporary tattoo that attaches to human skin. The idea came to Mr. Mercer based on his previous research involving similar technology for glucose and lactate monitoring. The tattoo magnetically attaches to a flexible electronic board that measures the blood alcohol level.
The device works by measuring blood alcohol level using the following technique. The tattoo is manufactured on a specialized paper that is screen-printed with silver and silver chloride electrodes. When activated, these electrodes create a small harmless electrical current for several minutes. The current goes through a gel in the tattoo that, when activated by the electrical current releases a substance that penetrates the skin and causes it to sweat. When the sweat comes up through the skin pores, alcohol-sensitive enzyme sensor in the tattoo measures the amount of the alcohol in the sweat. The higher the concentration of the alcohol, the stronger the current and the higher the measurement of the blood alcohol level. The electronic board transfers the data to the wearer’s mobile device via bluetooth technology and warns the wearer that he or she is above the legal limit and will commit a DUI if he or she drives.
As discussed above, Mr. Mercer worked on a similar technology prior to developing this alcohol measuring tattoo by creating the devices that measured the glucose and the lactate levels in human subjects. The alcohol measuring tattoo technology was tested in a laboratory setting using nine volunteers who used the device by wearing it before and after the consumption of alcohol. Mr. Mercier says that the alcohol sensors were able to measure the amount of alcohol in volunteers’ blood accurately. The results of the study were published in ACS Sensors magazine.
Mr. Mercier believes that the concept of “temporary tattoos” is very versatile in usage. The cost of the device is extremely low and can be manufactures for only a few cents. Further, the device is disposable and can be a great help not only in self-testing by drivers who are concerned about a DUI, but also it can be used by police, bartenders, and various medical and scientific researchers, who want to study the alcohol’s effects on a human body.
Yet, there is plenty of work can be done to improve the temporary tattoo technology. First of all, the device is designed for a singular use and should be disposed after a 5-minute of usage. Mercier’s team is working on a 24-hour version of the device, with a main purpose to help doctors control their patients’ alcohol intake. Secondly, the nine volunteers used in a study was too small of a sample size to determine the device’s effectiveness. A much larger sample size of test subjects should be used to get a better feel for the device effectiveness. Lastly, currently, the main concern about the device is that it works only for a few minutes while alcohol is absorbed by a human body over a period that can last hours. Thus, measuring the blood alcohol level by the temporary tattoo technology can not make the wearer safe from a DUI because after measuring the blood alcohol level, the alcohol level can rise and be over the legal limit at the time of driving.
The best way to prevent a DUI is, not to drink and drive. Yet, if you consumed moderate amount of alcohol, you can determine your blood alcohol level by wearing a temporary tattoo that measures alcohol concentration and alerts you to the risk of a DUI. If you are arrested for DUI, call DUI attorney for professional help and free attorney consultation.
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Photo: University of California, San Diego