Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Nidhi Subbaraman

A View from Nidhi Subbaraman

Drunk-spotting With an Infrared Camera

Temperature changes on your face are a telltale sign of tipsiness.

  • October 16, 2012

Drunks are a varied species, and the loud among them are easily picked out in a crowd. But even the more silent sorts may be found out, given away by their hot noses and cool foreheads.

Georgia Koukiou and Vassilis Anastassopoulos, of the University of Patras in Greece, propose that infrared imaging of people’s faces, backed by algorithms that detected facial regions, could be an easy way to test sobriety, Wired reports.

The researchers studied the faces of about 20 volunteers before and after they knocked back four beers. They found that the temperature of the nose was a decent indicator of their subject’s level of inebriation. In all cases, the noses of the beer drinkers were hotter than they were pre-beer. And, more usefully, their noses were almost always hotter than their foreheads. In September they published their findings in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.

As the theory goes, alcohol in the bloodstream dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow just under the skin. This heats up certain parts of your face, skewing its otherwise even heat map.

Koukiou and Anastassopoulos describe two ways to make use of this information picked up by infrared imaging. The first compares infrared images of would-be-drunks with stock scans of sloshed and sober people. The second method drops the need for a reference, relying solely on the temperature difference detected on a person’s face.

With such a long-distance drunk detector, policemen could scan a person’s face from across the street before approaching them with nosy questions or testing their balance with absurd walking tests.

Such a system could perhaps be put to use in a car as well. If a car can check your heartbeat, it’s not inconceivable that it could be programed to lockdown if you sat at the wheel with a hot nose. 

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Online Only.
  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.