Biometrics that measure face flush can determine sobriety

September 13, 2012 - 

What are the basic warning signs that show when a person has hit their alcohol tolerance limit? The slurred speech and unsteady gait is a dead giveaway and should be more than enough for a highway patrol officer to write a DUI to the inebriated party. A face-flushed red may not seem much initially, however, in the case of alcohol intoxication, it could be used as a reliable indicator.

Alcohol is a vasodilator and opens up the blood vessels making the flow of substances in and out of veins and arteries easier and faster. This rapid increase in rate of absorption likewise results to the red flush in the cheeks, neck and other skin surfaces. A person who is noticeably drunk will have a hotter or warmer skin surface temperature compared to a sober person.

Knowing this, new biometric technology can be created by paring facial recognition software with a thermal camera, like those used to detect possible SARS carriers in airports, to help detect possible drunk drivers on a highway without necessarily pulling them over.

The University of Patras in Greece is developing such a technology using two different methods to determine whether a person is inebriated or not. One method measures multiple points on the face to read heat levels and then compares these with a sober subject. The other method converts the heat signatures on the face into an algorithm that is then compared to the other regions of the same subject’s face.

Will a thermal scanner be just as effective as a breathalyzer in determining sobriety?

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About Mona Green

Mona Green writes full time for She is also a licensed Medical Laboratory Scientist and is currently involved in several civic society organizations. Mona is completing her Master's Degree in Public Administration."