People who are inebriated in public places (such as airliners or malls) can definitely create problems. Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to tell if someone really is under the influence. Instead of making every “jolly”-looking person take a breathalyzer test, Greek researchers are suggesting something less intrusive – video software that can spot drunks by analyzing their faces.
The software, which is currently being developed at the University of Patras, works in two ways.
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First, it measures pixel values at specific points on the face. These points are some of the locations at which blood vessels beneath the skin dilate when alcohol has been consumed. This causes the skin to color in those places. When the software subsequently compares an individual’s facial coloration against a database of facial images of both inebriated and sober people, it can apparently determine whether or not that person is drunk – with reasonable accuracy.
Second, it utilizes thermal imaging technology to gauge the temperature of an individual’s nose and forehead. When people are inebriated, apparently, their noses get warm while their foreheads remain relatively cool. An algorithm within the software allows it to locate these facial features when presented with an image of a person’s face.
The researchers believe that by combining the two approaches, the software could be used to reliably identify intoxicated people in public spaces, so that they could be dealt with before trouble occurs.