Science creates e-snitch to get you to stop drinking

Sometimes to kick a habit, all we need is a gentle prod. Or in this case, a subdermal electronic snitch.




Drinking, much more than anything else, is our national pastime. Not cricket, not answering a question with another question, not peering through the blinds at the sight of the new neighbour, no. It’s hitting the tins with the boiyz/gurls/whoever. Whether we bristle at the sight of the chorus of those who respond “no way, get fucked, fuck off” to the question am I ever gonna see your face again? or gleefully join in, the fact is that it happens.

It’s probably fair to say that it’d be best if we all sobered up eventually, but the question of how is certainly a difficult one. Considering that our drinking culture walks inexorably locked at the elbow of our society at large, and certainly, at a personal level, it is often the string that holds a group together. It’s a difficult thing to address. What we need, perhaps more than anything is something drastic, seeking the expertise of those we previously consigned to the scrap heap of our favours.

I’m talking about snitches. But these are no standard candidates for a stitching, no. These chips are stitched to the roof of your mouth (or an orifice of your choice) and totally narc on you when you decide to get drunk. Researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) developed the tech, which is a biosensor of one cubic millimetre in size.

So, how does it work? Well, when the person/subject drinks, an enzyme coating the sensor rockets a wireless electrical signal to a second party, such as a smartwatch, or an app, anything that remotely powers the sensor.


The snitch in question | Image Credit: David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.


Researchers claim that the first tests worked, successfully transmitting through a layer of piggy skin. Taking a quick scope of your more antiquated career drunk, the consistency is about the same.

“The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a routine, unobtrusive alcohol and drug monitoring device for patients in substance abuse treatment programs,” lead researcher Drew Hall said in a press release.

Which, considering the current alternatives, Drew is a smart cookie. The landscape of measuring the expanse of the addict’s condition is a particularly clunky, busy mosaic. Breathalyzers, blood tests, or temporary tattoos are the current norm. The researchers at UCSD hope that their advancements represent the future.

Where this will help most, obviously, is those we seek it. Those crushed under the yoke of addiction, or spun in the revolutions of dependency. Those who’ve admitted that they have a problem.

However, for the rest of us, those who still swim in a rye tinted river of denial, well, it’s up to us to get out before our livers prune.

Our (last) call, dudes.

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