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How to Use a Biosensor Tattoo to Prevent Tragedy

How to Use a Biosensor Tattoo to Prevent Tragedy

How to use a biosensor tattoo to prevent tragedy is something that I have been thinking about  lately. I suppose it’s connected to my overall interest in how technology can be used to make people healthier and safer. This time my particular concern with the latest break through in technology and health has to do with my witnessing the demise of a friend’s dream because of alcoholism years ago.

Tips on how to stop drinking
How to stop drinking

When I was in college I had a friend, Greg, who was an alcoholic. Like  most alcoholics, Greg never admitted  to himself  that he had a problem until it shattered his life.  Greg came from a modest background but still  managed to earn a scholarship to one of the top colleges in the country. While the rest of us struggled to get good grades, He breezed through his classes. There was no “freshman blues” for this English Lit genius. He could  easily have a conversation with you on the greatness of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

               

A moment later he could discuss each meaning of the circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno.

   

He ended the first semester  with a 4.00 GPA . Considering that this was a school where professors with long years of service could still count the number of A’s they had given, this was quite an accomplishment. However, it didn’t take long for the booze to win out.

 

Certain images are forever forged in one’s memory when it comes to pain or love

Such was this day when I met Greg at our favorite college hangout.The room was  full of overlapping   dialogue  like a scene from a Robert Altman film. And if you don’t know,  those kind of movies often deal  with the uncomfortable realism of life— like the first time you see a friend cry.

Here is what it was like for me. Some of the tears got on Greg’s mouth  and  he trembled a bit   as if the salt landing on his lips were a cruel reminder of his sad state. Greg showed me his transcript of the last semester of freshman year. All the A’s were replaced by F’s and he had flunked out of school.

It was hard to fight back my own tears. No, I didn’t feel a “hole in My soul” and my guts didn’t turn  to ice  or anything of that sort. I can only tell you that I felt the kind of empathy  one experiences when watching a friend  in pain.  I ‘m sure  you know what I mean.  Anyway, I said my goodbye to Greg. I could only hope that he would finally get the help he needed.

How Technology Can Help People Like Greg

As You can imagine, I was thrilled to find out how an experimental wearable device could help one know whether he or she had too much to drink. If a device like that had been around when Greg had his drinking problem, perhaps it could have saved him from flunking out of college and all the challenges that came afterward.

According to senior science reporter, Seth Augenstein, “Engineers from the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla – with funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) – have created what is basically a wearable sensor that detects alcohol levels   in your perspiration and then sends that information to your smartphone.” [1]

 

Wearable tattoo sends alcohol levels to your cell phone

In explaining how the technology works, Seila Selimovic, Ph.D., director of the NIBIB Program in Tissue Chips, stated in a press release, that the device    resembles a temporary tattoo but it’s actually a “biosensor patch  that is embedded with several flexible wireless components.” [2]

tips on using biosensor tattoo
Using Biosensor Tattoo on the shoulder

 

Tips on using biosensor tattoo
Using biosensor tattoo on the arm

“One component releases a chemical that stimulates perspiration on the skin below the patch. Another component senses changes in the electrical current flowing through the generated sweat, which measures alcohol levels and sends them to the user’s cell phone.” [3]

The phone could then alert the user that it’s not safe to drive

Other Alternatives to The Wearable  Sensor

According to Bevin Fletcher, contributing editor  and science writer for Bioscience Technology, “While other sensors have been created that monitor alcohol levels through sweat, they utilize insensible sweat – which  is sweat that occurs before it’s actually observed as perspiration on the skin, and these results can take up to two hours.  Another problem with available systems is that they are not portable or wearable.”[4]

There is of course good reason to stop people from driving while drunk. The Center  for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 88,000 people in the U.S. die each year from alcohol-related causes, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 9,900 are killed in drunk driving crashes.

So this is a suggest  scenario  of how the device would work in real life. Your friend, perhaps someone like Greg, is a problem drinker. He keeps guzzling one too  many out at a bar. “ But just a few minutes after taking that drink, the person’s cell phone buzzes – telling them to have a glass of water instead of ordering another.”[5]

Here is The Gist. A technology which is designed  to cut down levels of deaths and injuries due to drunk driving, has the added benefit  of enabling a problem drinker to be proactive in monitoring  their alcohol  level. By taking the stigma  out and making it less burdensome, the wearable monitor  promises  to be more effective than breathalyzers utilized by law enforcement  today.

Conclusion

Congratulations, dear reader, you just discovered the new exciting technology that is non-invasive and can help monitor your alcohol  intake. This will make it less likely that you’ll end up in a car crash  or become reckless with your health and future. However, at this point you may be wondering what happened to Greg.

Let me share with  you a  surprising end to this story.   Greg got a second chance. He, after a hard struggle and with the support of loved ones, now lives a productive  and happy life.

And with that, let me just encourage you to get the word out right away about this biosensor tattoo and similar devices to help problem drinkers. Let’s do all we can to support our friends who may be going through  a very rough time and see no hope. I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References

  1. https://www.cemag.us/news/2016/10/wearable-patch-sends-blood-alcohol-info-cell-phone
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. https://www.biosciencetechnology.com/news/2016/08/wearable-electronic-patch-detects-blood-alcohol-content-quickly?cmpid=horizontalcontent&__hstc=53928567.3e15be3f54c1af6b78c01fbfee97a94e.15031
  5. Ibid

 

12 thoughts on “How to Use a Biosensor Tattoo to Prevent Tragedy

  1. Advances in technology have always excited, much more than my friends and family haha. I pretty much feel like a kid at Christmas when reading about it.

    I have read about a lot of the possibilities of wearable technology, and I have come across biosensor tattoos before. But I have never heard about using them to detect alcohol in the body.

    Using biosensor tattoos to prevent tragedies due to too high alcohol intake sounds super awesome, and I feel it gets to the core of how great technology is. I mean using it to enhance our lives and prevent bad things to happen to us.

    1. Hey Marcus,

      I feel the same excitement when reading about advances in technology. I especially love to follow new  trends in health related technology. I too was surprised to learn about biosensors being used to prevent the tragedies caused by too high alcohol  intake. I love the idea. I think this technology is going to save a lot of lives and dreams.

  2. Thanks for this informative post. I too never knew that body sensors could be used to detect alcohol. I have a son going to college, and he is a good kid. still you hear horror stories of campus drinking and good kids getting in trouble because maybe they took one too many drinks and got behind the wheel. I think any technology that can stop drunk driving is a great idea.

    1. I think the problem of campus drinking is a certainly something that every parent should be concerned about. Peer pressure, Frat parties, a burst of independence, can all lead to abuse of alcohol. I agree with you that the biosensor tattoo can be a very helpful tool in reducing drunk driving. I think that it would be especially effective in college towns where it’s not uncommon to see several frat parties going on at the same time, and where alcohol is easily available.

  3. Hi Thabo,

    I’m happy to hear that Greg was able to get a second chance. All too often folks don’t have that opportunity. Hopefully wearable tattoos can help change that for folks with alcohol addictions. Arguably, these nifty pieces of technology could help more than just alcoholics. they could aid anyone out for a casual drinks to make a sound decision about driving. Wouldn’t it be something if we started seeing these pop up in bars for use by all?

    Thanks for the eye opening article,

    JaemiO

    1. Hi JaemiO,

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I think indeed the biosensor tattoo can  help more than alcoholics. They have the potential to save a lot of lives by, as you point out, enabling casual drinkers to make sound decisions about driving. A great technology with no down sides.

  4. Kudos. A very good and eye opening post. I agree with JaemiO that bars should carry this technology. I wonder if the owners of such establishments would really corporate with such a request. They may think it brings too much attention to the part their product plays in problem drinking. They may say it’s too much like “big brother”. What do you think?

    1. Hey Andrew,

      You bring up a very provocative but legitimate point. Yes, I can see bar owners being afraid that any technology that can detect levels of alcohol might have the unintended consequences of people wanting to impose restrictions that may be harmful to their earnings. On the other hand, studies continue to show that in large measures more young people with disposable income tend to favor and support business establishments that they believe align with their sense of “right and wrong”. So bar owners who are perceived to be socially responsible may very well get a boast to their bottom line.Thus, I think some of these bar owners may want to be on the right side of the issue and welcome such technology. I guess only time will tell.

  5. I was touched by the Greg story, and I liked the way you made the issue of problem drinking even more thought provoking by talking about a real person. I don’t know if biosensors will stop people who are determined to drink, but I think it can help those social drinkers who just had one too many from making a tragic mistake by stepping behind the wheel. Unfortunately I have known people who thought they were okay and just a little buzzed after some drinking only to find they were far from okay. They almost ruined their lives.

    1. Hi Kerry,
      Yes, the biosensors tattoo may not work for hard core drinkers because they may not really pay attention to them. However, we can take the hopeful view that the majority of people who would use a biosensor tattoo are sincere in their efforts to make sure their occasional drinking never becomes a source of trouble for themselves and others. In other words, they are becoming proactive in making sure that the don’t drive drunk. I think that’s a great thing, and I hope more people become aware of this health technology.

  6. Sometimes, I sit down for hours imagining how much advancement had happened to technology. From using just a kit to detect blood sugar level to telling the heart rate and how many steps you have taken in a day. It’s just awesome and I’m glad they are happening in ‘my time’.
    I have not heard about this wearable before, but thanks to this your detailed and informative post, I have really learned a lot in this few minutes of reading. I am sure going to be sharing it with friends to help many of them.

    1. Hi Johnny,
      I think the biosensor Tattoo is a wearable technology that has the potential to prevent thousands of lives from being destroyed by casual drinking that gets out of control. I am happy that you found the post useful and want to share it with friends. Let’s all pass on the word about this awesome technology.

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