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Drunks Detected by Thermal Camera

(Image credit: Rita Juliana | Stock Xchng)

A picture of your face could reveal that you're drunk. But it won't be the droopy eyes and drool that give you away.

A new study reports that a thermal camera could detect drunkenness in the temperature of the face.

Researchers at the University of Patras in Greece had 20 healthy participants down an 11-ounce (330-milliliter) glass of beer every 20 minutes. In total, they had four drinks, and after each, the researchers took a sequence of infrared pictures of their faces. Twenty minutes after the last beer, another series of pictures was taken.

The researchers showed that two different approaches could be used to spot a drunk.

In the first method, an algorithm was used to compare the photos to a database of facial pictures of drunk and sober people. The model could pick out inebriated participants based on certain hotspots on the face that are signatures of drunkenness. The researchers said similar technology has been used to determine whether a person was infected with a virus, such as SARS.

In the second approach, another algorithm analyzed the temperature differences on certain points in an individual's face. For drunk people, the nose and mouth regions are generally hotter compared with the forehead.

The researchers, led by Georgia Koukiou and Vassilis Anastassopoulos, said such technology could be used to scan people before they buy more alcohol or enter airports and other public spaces. Their work was published in the latest edition of the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.

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Megan Gannon
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.