Alcohol is the world's oldest recreational drug for good reason: It's astoundingly simple to make and the right doses of it send you into a state of elation like no other. It's also damn tasty, if done correctly.
But we all know the very real dangers that alcohol can pose both to drivers and people who are prone to addiction.
It should come as no surprise, then, that in the Internet of Everything age, crafty engineers have found new ways to measure and report your blood alcohol content (BAC), should you need it.
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institute of Health, challenged designers last year to create a wearable alcohol biosensor that could both improve the tech behind existing devices (i.e., Breathalyzers) and make the process of BAC measuring a little more discreet (i.e., again, those bulky Breathalyzers).
The winner of that competition was Skyn, a wristwatch-like device from San Francisco-based company BACtrack that looks not unlike a Fitbit and monitors your blood alcohol content through your sweat. While still in the prototype stage, Skyn will provide continuous monitoring of BAC for both consumers and healthcare and/or law enforcement professionals, sending data via Bluetooth to an iOS device and recording your changing levels.
"It can help doctors accurately measure a patient's drinking history, and not just depend on the most recent tests," Dr. George Koob of the NIH told Reuters. "This can help a lot with the treatment."
But Skyn probably won't replace Breathalyzers, as Engadget points out; it can take up to 45 minutes for alcohol to initially pass through your skin. And Skyn has not yet been submitted to the FDA for approval, Reuters notes.
After taking home the $200,000 grand prize earlier this month, Keith Nothacker, BACtrack's founder and CEO, said in a statement, "We're excited to bring BACtrack Skyn to market to aid researchers and treatment providers in collecting more reliable data and ultimately, make advances in healthcare treatment."