Part of drinking for pleasure is knowing your limits and how many is too many. But aside from counting your drinks, and spacing them out with water, most of us have to use either a rule of thumb like “A drink is processed every ninety minutes” or simply have some room in the budget for a ride-share after a bar crawl. Fortunately, technology is here to help with a new tool that tracks just how much booze is too much.
The BACtrack Skyn is a clever idea. It’s a discreet bracelet you strap on your wrist that connects to your smartphone, or your Apple Watch, as you can use it as a wristband. As you drink, your skin releases molecules of ethanol. If you’ve ever smelled the drunk on somebody, that’s because, in part, the alcohol is literally coming out of their skin. So it simply senses how much ethanol is being released, and uses that to help you track how drunk you’re getting. The app will even let you set alarms so when you cross certain thresholds, you’ll know. Especially in social situations like beer tasting festivals, where you’re consuming many small amounts of booze with wildly different alcohol levels across a fairly short period of time, this will be a handy way to enjoy yourself without wishing you were dead the next day.
It’s an interesting idea not least in that it’s exploring a new frontier in medicine. We’ve known for a while that diet and health have effects across the body, and there’s work being done for a sort of “breathalyzer” that can diagnose Parkinson’s, certain types of cancer and other diseases. But until recently we simply haven’t had sensors that are sensitive and cheap enough to just strap to ourselves and keep track of our skin chemistry. Sure, this is just one approach, and for now, it’ll largely be limited to drinkers who have money to burn and a need to keep track of how many they put away at a tasting. But don’t be surprised if, in the future, more and more people have got a discreet sensor package on their wrists.