Drunk driving takes the lives of hundreds of thousands every year. Very often people think that the amount of alcohol taken is within the allowable range and they can easily get in their car and go home. However, this often is not the case! The line is very thin and most people do not realize the danger to which they expose themselves and others. Some of them do not even realize that alcohol has a great effect on motor function, muscle coordination, thinking and reflexes.

Study of scientists

Thanks to the fast-developing technologies and the fact today most of the people own a smartphone, is the reason for the study of a group of scientists.

Imagine that soon your smartphone could alert you if the amount of alcohol in your blood exceeds the allowable limit. That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? Undoubtedly, it would save many lives.

Brian Suffolletto, a physicist at Stanford University, says:

We have powerful sensors that we carry with us always and everywhere.

We need to learn how best to use them for the benefit of human health.

He, along with a group of scientists from the University of Pittsburgh, USA, are doing a controlled laboratory test. It shows that our smartphones could be useful for detecting a disturbing pattern of walking due to alcohol consumption. This is thanks to the built-in accelerometer in most smartphones.


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Suffoletto and his colleagues conducted a study. They recruit 22 volunteers aged between 21-43. To each of them, they gave a cocktail drink containing vodka. The amount was sufficient to reach 0.2% alcohol content in a breath test. In comparison, the amount of blood alcohol allowed for driving in the United States is only 0.08%. The volunteers had an hour to drink the contents given to them. Then, every hour for a period of 7 hours, the researchers analyzed the concentration of alcohol in their breath. Suffoletto and his colleagues strapped on their lower backs smartphones using elastic belts. The volunteers had to take 10 steps forward in a straight line and then 10 steps back.

The result

Using an accelerometer application, the researchers collected real-time data on each participant’s walking pattern. They found out how it changes if they are under the influence of alcohol. In 90% of cases, Suffoletto and his colleagues were able to determine if the alcohol in the volunteer’s blood had exceeded the allowance of 0.08%. And all this only with the help of a smartphone.

Despite the satisfactory results, Suffoletto and his team still have a lot of research to do. First of all, they plan to check what data they would get if a person carries his phone in his hand or pocket, for example. This is especially important because these are the usual places where people carry their phone.

Brian Suffoletto has spent the last 10 years of his career researching how smart technology could help save lives. He works tirelessly and strongly hopes to help reduce deaths and accidents related to drunk driving. If he can improve this application, it would help many people reduce their alcohol consumption. It could reduce drunk driving and save many lives.

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