On the bright side, the scientists state that their work “could offer opportunities for triggering just-in-time interventions aimed at improving prevention and treatment of alcohol use disorders. ” But lead researcher Brian Suffoletto acknowledged in an interview with New Scientist that the accelerometer information could be tempting for third-parties in the business of data collection. “If someone wanted to go through the effort to process and analyse it, they could probably make inferences about changes in walking patterns,” Suffoletto said.
A group of researchers from Stanford and the University of Pittsburgh just published a preliminary study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs that used a small group of participants to show alcohol intoxication could likely be detected by the accelerometer that comes standard in most modern smartphones.
In addition to the small sample size and narrow demographics of the participants, the scientists identified the consistent placement of the smartphone on the subject’s body as a weakness and they hope to test more a more natural placement in future studies.