Phones could detect drinking over legal driving limit

People sit at a pub table with chips, drinks and phones

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One study found that smartphones can detect when you’ve been drinking too much by tracking your walking.

American researchers used sensors in smartphones to detect when someone had exceeded the legal limit for drinking alcohol.

The phones were able to do this with about 90% accuracy when users took just 10 steps in the University of Pittsburgh study.

Scientists hope the discovery can be used to develop device alerts, such as asking people not to drive while drunk.

“We have powerful sensors that we carry with us wherever we go,” said lead researcher Brian Suffoletto. “We must learn how to use them to better serve public health.”

The study had 22 participants between the ages of 21 and 43, who were given a drink of vodka and lime juice every hour until they hit the UK and US drink drive limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol. per 100 milliliters of blood.

With a smartphone strapped to their back, participants performed a walking activity every two hours: walking in a straight line for 10 steps, turning around and back.

About 90% of the time, researchers were able to identify those over the limit through the changes in gait highlighted by the phones.

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Press Association

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Hopefully, alerts can be developed on phones to prevent people from driving over the edge

One application might be to notify users who may not think they are harmed that they shouldn’t drive.

“I lost a close friend to a college car and driving accident,” said Dr. Suffoletto. “And as an emergency doctor, I have cared for dozens of adults with acute alcohol intoxication related injuries.

“For this reason, I have spent the past 10 years testing digital interventions to prevent deaths and injuries related to excessive alcohol consumption.”

While this is a small preliminary study, the scientists hope it lays the groundwork for further research. They want to carry out further experiments that better mimic the way people carry their phones, such as in their hands or pockets.

  • Alcohol abuse “affects one in five hospitalized patients in the UK”
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Last year, nearly 360,000 hospital admissions in England were mainly due to alcohol consumption, with around 6,000 alcohol-specific deaths.

“In five years, I would like to imagine a world where if people go out with friends and drink at risky levels, they are warned at the first sign of impairment and strategies are sent to help them stop drinking and protect them from high-events. risk such as driving, interpersonal violence and unprotected sexual encounters, “said Dr. Suffoletto.

The findings were published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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