This "Temporary Tattoo" Tells You If You Are Too Drunk


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

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Dave Pitt/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Drunkenness and tattoos are usually two things that should never be combined. But that can’t be said for this new bit of research.

Scientists and engineers from UC San Diego have developed a "temporary tattoo” sensor system that is able to give an indication of how much alcohol you have in your body.


The team of nanoengineers recently revealed their concept in a study published in the American Chemical Society. It works through an electrochemical sensor that is able to detect alcohol levels via unnoticeable amounts of sweat present on the skin.

The sensors are located in a thin film that the researchers dubbed a “temporary tattoo.” It’s a hydrogel patch that contains electrodes and pilocarpine, a drug that induces sweating. It also features a flexible circuit board to process this information, which monitors alcohol level within 15 minutes. Using a Bluetooth connection, you’ll be able to see how much alcohol is in your system via a specially designed smartphone app.

The device is subtle and can even be hidden under clothing. UC San Diego

“When you’re out at a party or at a bar, this sensor could send alerts to your phone to let you know how much you’ve been drinking,” co-author Jayoung Kim, a materials science and engineering Ph.D. student, said in a statement.


They developed the “tattoo” so it can still provide accurate readings even after repeated bending and lots of movement, which is probably a wise idea if alcohol is involved. Unlike breathalyzers and blood-alcohol detectors, it’s also considerably more convenient to use and less invasive.

“Lots of accidents on the road are caused by drunk driving. This technology provides an accurate, convenient and quick way to monitor alcohol consumption to help prevent people from driving while intoxicated,” added lead author Joseph Wang, a UC San Diego professor of nanoengineering.

Main image credit: Dave Pitt/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


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  • alcohol,

  • electronics,

  • tattoo,

  • drinking,

  • drunk,

  • drink driving,

  • blood alcohol level