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Smartphones Can Tell When You’re Drunk by Analyzing Your Walk


Smartphones – the daily companion to many – can detect when you’ve had too much alcohol. These handhelds can do so by merely detecting changes in your walk.

The new revelations come from a new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Lead researcher Brian Suffoletto, M.D., with Stanford University, says, “We have powerful sensors we carry around with us wherever we go.”

“We need to learn how to use them to best serve public health.”

The research was conducted on 22 adults (ages 21 to 43) who were given an alcoholic drink to produce a breath alcohol concentration of .20 percent – way more than .08 percent (the legal limit for driving in).

After that, the researchers analyzed their breath alcohol concentration and also had them perform a walking test with a smartphone placed on each participant’s lower back – hourly for seven hours.

Through this walking test, the smartphones were able to measure acceleration and mediolateral (side to side), vertical (up and down), and anteroposterior (forward and backward) movements, which were then analyzed.

From the study, the researchers were able to use gait changes – about 90 per cent of the time – to identify when the breath alcohol concentration of the participant exceeded .08 per cent.

However, because the smartphones were not regularly placed as we would usually carry them, additional research is to be conducted in that regard.

Suffoletto and his team say this is just a “proof-of-concept study” that builds a foundation for future research for the usage of smartphones to detect alcohol-related impairments remotely.

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Alvin Wanjala

Alvin Wanjala has been writing about technology for over 2 years. He writes about different topics in the consumer tech space. He loves streaming music, programming, and gaming during downtimes.

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