'Drinking until you’re red in the face' may have a new meaning

'Drinking until you’re red in the face' may have a new meaning »Play Video

Two Greek scientists said they've discovered that they can tell if a person is drunk or not by pointing a camera at a person's face.

Georgia Koukiou and Vassilis Anastassopoulos, from the University of Patras in Greece said that it it can't be just any camera. A paper published in the International Journal of Electronic Security said that an algorithm, in conjunction with a thermal imaging camera can pinpoint hot spots on your face that tell if you’ve had alcohol.

Alcohol causes blood vessels in your face to dilate. The camera shows the areas where your blood vessels have dilated to be warmer. The scientist say that if a person’s forehead is cooler while their face is hotter, they’re inebriated.

The owner of Shooter’s Pub in Eugene, Cindy Short, said she thinks that if law enforcement used that kind of technology, it could hurt her business. 

“It’s a complete invasion. It’s getting to a point where a person can’t go into a bar anymore and have a drink without being afraid of leaving.” said Short. “That would be like walking through the door and having an O.L.C.C. agent there all the time.”

“It might be a great tool for a bartender.” said pub patron Ted Poissant.

Poissant thinks that businesses could use the technology to tell when they should stop serving people alcohol

Eugene police officer Chris Harrison says the technology might be useful in crowds of people, but they will continue to use breathalyzers to test for inebriation.

“The problem I see right off the bat,” Harrison said said, “is just because somebody has been drinking doesn’t mean any crime has occurred. It’s usually pretty apparent, without any kind of thermal imaging equipment, whether or not someone’s been drinking or has had too much to drink.”

Harrison added that drunk people in crowds tend to draw attention to themselves.

Short is concerned that the cameras would make her customers feel uncomfortable. We asked Poissant if he thought thermal imaging cameras would keep people out of bars. He took a drink of his beer and said, “People will come in. Regardless.”