The temporary stick-on tattoo releases a drug called pilocarpine onto your skin to induce sweating, and then reads your blood-alcohol levels using a flexible electronic device magnetically attached to the tattoo. The data is beamed via Bluetooth to your smartphone, where you can easily check if you’re over the limit. This all happens in less than eight minutes, and if you’ve had too much to drink, the application can even notify the police or a medical professional.
The developers claim the tattoo is more accurate than a breathalyser, and less invasive than a finger-prick test. They hope the new technology will help individuals to better control their alcohol consumption, as well as empowering bartenders to refuse customers who have had enough to drink.
‘When you’re out at a party or at a bar, this sensor could send alerts to your phone to let you know how much you’ve been drinking,’ said study co-author Jayoung Kim. Another possible use is in law enforcement, where it may be used to monitor drinking in parolees.
The device could prevent many road accidents by transmitting data to a driver’s car, thereby preventing ignition when excessive alcohol has been consumed. It also has the potential to reduce the prevalence of other alcohol-related crimes.
While each tattoo is designed for one-time use only, the creators are developing an improved sensor that can monitor your alcohol levels for 24 hours. Applications may also be expanded towards monitoring other legal and illegal substances in the bloodstream.