Alcohol monitoring wearable takes readings straight from your skin
Mon 23 May 2016
The world’s first wearable alcohol monitor is able to track your blood alcohol levels, reading the ethanol molecules let off by your skin. The wristband, developed by San Francisco medical equipment manufacturer and breathalyser specialist BACtrack is dubbed Skyn, and marks the latest breakthrough in the use of wearables to support alcohol research.
In a video posted to YouTube, BACtrack president and CEO Keith Nothacker, explains how current alcohol monitoring devices are large and bulky, and can act as a ‘ball and chain’ for the user. As well as being a burden, these traditional testers can cost well over $1,000 (approx. £700) and don’t provide a constant stream of data. Nothacker continues to explain how his team wanted to rethink this design and make a low-cost, sleek, and safe product that anyone could use.
Skyn links to an app which offers feedback on alcohol levels and adjustable reading settings. Alerts can also be set to warn the user that they have been drinking too excessively.
The device is not a substitute for law enforcement breathalysers as it cannot provide real-time measurements, instead taking 45 minutes to track ethanol emitted by the skin. The wristband is rather designed to provide an overall history of alcohol use.
Last week BACtrack won a U.S. government-funded competition for Skyn, taking first place in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Wearable Biosensor Challenge and banking $200,000 in prize winnings. Dr. George Koob, director of the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, explained how Skyn would be able to “help doctors accurately measure a patient’s drinking history, and not just depend on the most recent tests.” He added that “this can help a lot with the treatment.”
Santa Barbara-based tech firm Milo, took the NIH second prize of $100,000 for its wearable alcohol tracker which also takes readings from the skin and communicates the data to a connected smartphone via wireless technology.