“Because of this, I have dedicated the past 10 years to testing digital interventions to prevent deaths and injury related to excessive alcohol consumption,” he added. “This controlled lab study shows that our phones can be useful to identify ‘signatures’ of functional impairments related to alcohol.”
The researchers recruited 22 volunteers for the test. The participants walked 10 steps in a straight line, turned and walk 10 steps back before drinking enough alcohol to reach a breath alcohol concentration greater than the legal limit of 0.08%. Smartphones were placed on their lower backs to record a series of tasks (walk forward, walk backward, etc.).
By comparing the participants’ gaits before and after drinking alcohol, the researchers were able to predict with 92.5% accuracy whether the person’s breath alcohol concentration was 0.08% or higher.
Although this was a limited study, the researchers said, “this proof-of-concept study provides a foundation for future research on using smartphones to remotely detect alcohol-related impairments.”