A recent study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that smartphones can tell when you are drunk solely based on your walk. To confirm this, scientists had 22 adults drink a vodka cocktail in one hour, then attached smartphones to their lower backs. Participants were then made to walk a straight line once an hour for seven hours, the smartphones measuring their speed and movements during each 20-step trip. They were also tested each hour with a Breathalyzer.
Roughly 90% of the time, researchers found they were able to confirm when volunteers were drunk (defined as their breath alcohol concentration exceeding .08 percent) based on the smartphones’ analysis of their brief walk alone. “We found preliminary evidence supporting use of gait-related features measured by smartphone accelerometer sensors to detect alcohol intoxication,” the study concluded.
This ability of the smartphone, ordinarily used to count steps for distance and health apps, could help people reduce their alcohol consumption, allow sponsors to better monitor alcoholics’ habits and prevent drinking and driving, said Dr. Brian Suffoletto, the study’s lead researcher. This could reduce alcohol addiction, poisoning, and incidents of drunk driving.
The study authors plan to next research if smartphones are as accurate in predicting intoxication when held in drinkers’ hands or placed in their pockets. They have high hopes for the societal good smartphones will be capable of once they are equipped to warn drunk individuals to be careful.