Engineers have developed a tiny sensor that could potentially replace regular Breathalyzer or blood tests for patients in rehabilitation programs
People arrested for DUIs or other alcohol-related offenses are sometimes ordered to wear so-called SCRAM (secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring) bracelets. The device, usually worn on the ankle, can detect alcohol consumption through the skin, alerting authorities if the user has broken his or her probation by drinking. Patients in rehabilitation programs often submit to alcohol monitoring as well, often through regular Breathalyzers or blood tests. But SCRAM bracelets are clunky and sometimes embarrassing, and tests require regular visits.
A team of scientists from the University of California, San Diego, has come up with a potential alternative: a tiny implantable chip. The one cubic millimeter biosensor is injected beneath the skin and powered by a wearable device like a smartwatch.
“Right now this chip could be useful for alcohol monitoring during treatment or diversion programs,” says Drew Hall, an electrical engineering professor at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering who led the project. “However, this is a platform technology that we feel can be expanded to many other areas of substance abuse treatment and monitoring, and ultimately other disease monitoring.”
Hall’s team presented their research at the 2018 IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference in San Diego earlier this month.