Smartphones ‘may be able to detect how drunk a person is with 98% accuracy’

9 November 2023, 06:04

Smartphones and may be able to detect a person’s level of alcohol intoxication by analysing voice patterns
Smartphones and may be able to detect a person’s level of alcohol intoxication by analysing voice patterns. Picture: PA

Sensors in phones could help determine a person’s level of alcohol intoxication based on the changes in their voice.

Sensors in smartphones may be able to detect how drunk a person is based on changes in their voice, according to a small study.

Following experiments involving 18 adults aged 21 and above, scientists said they were able to predict a person’s level of intoxication with 98% accuracy based on an analysis of their voice patterns.

Brian Suffoletto, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Stanford University in the US, said the accuracy of the findings of his research “genuinely took me by surprise”.

He added: “While we aren’t pioneers in highlighting the changes in speech characteristics during alcohol intoxication, I firmly believe our superior accuracy stems from our application of cutting-edge advancements in signal processing, acoustic analysis, and machine learning.”

While Prof Suffoletto said larger studies are needed to confirm the validity of the findings, he added his work has the potential to deliver “just-in-time interventions” to prevent alcohol-related road injuries and deaths in the future.

Prof Suffoletto said: “Imagine if we had a tool capable of passively sampling data from an individual as they went about their daily routines and survey for changes that could indicate a drinking episode to know when they need help.”

For the research, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, the scientists tailored alcohol doses based on the body weight of each person taking part and were given an hour to finish their drink.

Each individual was randomly given a series of tongue twisters to read out loud and a smartphone was used to record their voices.

Recordings were made before drinking, and each hour up to seven hours after drinking.

The researchers also measured each person’s breath alcohol levels at the beginning of the study and every 30 minutes for up to seven hours.

Using digital programmes, the researchers were able isolate the speaker’s voices and analyse measures such as frequency and pitch in one-second increments.

When checked against breath alcohol results, the researchers found that the model they developed was a good predictor of how drunk a person was – with 98% accuracy.

Prof Suffoletto believes that other behaviours such as gait and texting could be combined with voice pattern sensors to gauge intoxication levels.

He said: “Timing is paramount when targeting the optimal moment for receptivity and the relevance of real-time support.

“For instance, as someone initiates drinking, a reminder of their consumption limits can be impactful.

“However, once they’re significantly intoxicated, the efficacy of such interventions diminishes.”

By Press Association

More Technology News

See more More Technology News

Kettle

AI device aims to help keep elderly safe by monitoring household appliances

AI study

Action needed to protect election from AI disinformation, study says

Dr Laura Cinti looks up at an E.woodii plant growing in a glasshouse at Kew Gardens

AI enlisted in the hunt for female partner for lonely ancient plant

A mobile phone next to a telecoms mast near Dundry, Somerset

Pace required to hit targets on rural mobile signal unsustainable, report says

A NatWest sign

NatWest apologises to customers after mobile and online banking suffer outages

Greg Clark

AI regulators in UK are ‘under-resourced’, warns science committee chairman

Openreach engineer

Plans to build full fibre broadband in more than 500 new places unveiled

TikTok strategy

Tory TikTok launch ‘pathetic’ compared with Labour’s ‘savvier’ approach – expert

Person using laptop

More than 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online, study suggests

There are calls for mobile phones to be totally banned for under 16s

Calls for mobile phones to be totally banned for under 16s

A young girl using a mobile phone (picture posed by model)

Next government should consider banning phones for under-16s, report says

Sir Chris Bryant

AI should be used to develop an app which detects skin cancer, Labour MP says

Handout image from Microsoft of its Copilot virtual assistant displayed on a laptop screen

Microsoft expanding Copilot AI assistant to organise meetings and support teams

Solar panels on a house roof

Octopus Energy launches ‘buy now, pay later’ for solar panels

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi set for June IPO in welcome boost for London market

A person using a laptop

Nations agree to develop shared risk thresholds for AI as Seoul summit closes