How does an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet work, anyway?
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If you're like me, you probably spent at least one or two moments pondering the utility of the so-called alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet that Lindsay Lohan apparently wore, and wondered, "Didn't that thing eventually just kind of start spewing smoke and explode?" Luckily, Newsweek recently interviewed the manufacturers of the device, known as SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), to find out exactly how it works. It's a great, geeky read:
NEWSWEEK: How does it work?
Don White: The ankle bracelet takes an air sample from the ankle at least every hour, collects that data and stores it until it can connect to a modem and go through a landline to a computer for viewing and analysis. Itís taking the sweat, because 1 percent of what you drink comes out of your skin and attaches to sweat, so that's what we monitor. It's almost like a Breathalyzer on your ankle. It's a lot more sensitive than a Breathalyzer, but it's the same technology....
There are reports that the SCRAM can be cheated by submerging it in water to prevent sweating or by putting baloney between the skin and the device. Does that work?
We've had 40,000 people who have tried to find ways to get around it so it's always a cat-and-mouse game, but drinking events will last anywhere from six to 12 hours, so in order to block that you'd have to have it submerged the whole time, which is against the orders of probation. People can figure out how to get around anything, but if you don't comply, we will eventually get you. As far as the baloney, we had one offender do that and we have an infrared sensor that takes a signature from the skin and, anything, including baloney, would affect that sensor.