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This Temporary Tattoo Can Measure How Drunk You Are

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a wearable patch that releases a drug to induce sweat, which is then tested for dangerous blood-alcohol levels.

by Daisy Meager
Aug 4 2016, 12:00pm

Photo courtesy University of California San Diego.

Showing off this new tattoo down the pub probably won't earn you much street cred (it looks a like a computer electronics board from the '70s) but it might just save your life.

At least that's what engineers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) are hoping. They've developed a wearable patch that releases pilocarpine (a drug that induces sweat), which it then tests for blood-alcohol concentration. The patch can tell almost immediately if the wearer is over the limit for driving and transmits this information from the electronic board to mobile phones via Bluetooth.

READ MORE: This Jacket Was Designed to Get You Wasted

Publishing their findings in the ACS Sensors journal last month, the UCSD researchers tested these "tattoos" by attaching them to nine volunteers and taking readings before and after they had consumed a bottle of beer or a glass of wine.

According to a press release from UCSD, "the readouts accurately reflected the wearers' blood alcohol concentrations" and were not impacted by movement. "The device also gave accurate readouts even after repeated bending and shaking," it said.

Throw as many Saturday Night Fever shapes as you want, you won't fool this tattoo.

The UCSD engineers aren't the first to develop wearable, breathalyser-esque technology, but they claim that creating and measuring "sensible sweat—the sweat that's typically seen," as opposed to the "insensible sweat" that "happens before it's perceived as moisture on the skin," means that the device provides a better, realtime indicator of blood-alcohol concentration.

READ MORE: This App Will Stop You From Going to the Pub

Joseph Wang, a nano-engineering professor and one of the technology's developers, hopes that the device could stop people from driving when intoxicated.

He said in a press statement: "Lots of accidents on the road are caused by drunk driving. This technology provides an accurate, convenient, and quick way to monitor alcohol consumption to help prevent people from driving while intoxicated."

That's a lot more than you can say for those Chinese symbols on the back of your neck.

wearable technology
blood alcohol
University of California San Diego
measuring blood alcohol