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A Wearable Alcohol Biosensor

About the Challenge
Design and produce a wearable device to monitor blood alcohol levels in real time. It should be inconspicuous, low profile, and appealing to the wearer.

Posted By: National Institutes of Health
Category: Scientific/Engineering
Submission Dates: 9 a.m. ET, Mar 02, 2015 - 11:59 a.m. ET, Dec 02, 2015 Judging Dates: Jan 02, 2016 - May 02, 2016 Winners Announced: May 19, 2016

NIAAA Selects Winnners of Its Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism announced the winners of its Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge on May 19, 2016.  The competition sought the design of a discreet device capable of measuring blood alcohol levels in near real-time.

The winning prototype and recipient of the $200,000 first prize was submitted by BACtrack, a company known nationally for designing and selling portable breath alcohol testers for consumer and professional use. Their entry, the BACtrack Skyn, is worn on the wrist and offers continuous and non-invasive monitoring of a user’s BAC. Alcohol is detected using a fuel cell technology similar to that in devices used by law enforcement for roadside alcohol testing. The device connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone to store data.

“NIAAA issued this challenge to spark innovation in alcohol biosensor development. We were very pleased at the level of response and quality of prototypes that we received from the biotech community,” said NIAAA Director George Koob, PhD.

For the full list of winners, see NIAAA’s complete announcement.

The Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge, issued through Challenge.gov in March 2015, called for non-invasive wearable technology that could improve upon existing alcohol biosensor technology used in the criminal justice system. An improved alcohol biosensor could be a valuable resource for the alcohol research community, decreasing reliance on participant self-report in scientific studies.

Background:

Current technologies for real-time monitoring of alcohol consumption, used in criminal justice applications, have performed adequately, but have disadvantages for broader use. Current technology for continuous alcohol monitoring takes a reading every 30 minutes.

NIAAA sought a solution that improves on this interval and most closely approximates real-time monitoring and data collection.  The desired device would quantitate blood alcohol level, interpret and store the data, or transmit it to a smartphone or other device by wireless transmission.  Data storage and transmission would be completely secure in order to protect the privacy of the individual.  The device would have the ability to verify standardization at regular intervals and to indicate loss of functionality.  The power source would be dependable and rechargeable.  A form of subject identification would be an added benefit.  The device would be removable.

The challenge required written documentation and a working prototype of the submitted solution. NIAAA previously stipulated it was open to a range of design forms which can accomplish the above tasks.

Judges
George Koob, Ph.D.
Director, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism/NIH
Senior Staff Member, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering/ NIH
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering/NIH
Members, National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Program Staff Members, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism/NIH
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism/NIH
Judging Criteria

The award is contingent upon experimental validation of the submitted Solution by the Seeker. This is a reduction to practice challenge that requires written documentation and a working prototype of the submitted solution.

Submissions will be judged by a qualified panel selected by NIAAA. The panel will evaluate submissions based on the following judging criteria:
1. Accuracy, reliability, and frequency of blood alcohol measurement
2. Functionality, accuracy, and integration of data collection, data transmission and data storage
3. Safeguards for privacy protection and data integrity
4. Plans for process of manufacture
5. Marketability and likelihood of bringing the product to market
6. Appeal and acceptability to wearers
7. Feasibility
The award is contingent upon experimental validation of the submitted Solution by the Seeker. During the judging period, the expert panel may request additional information or clarification in order to evaluate the entry.

How to Enter

1. To Participate

This Challenge is open to any ‘‘Solver’’ where ‘‘Solver’’ is defined as an individual, a group of individuals (i.e., a team), or an entity. Whether singly or as part of a group or entity, individuals younger than 18 participating in the Challenge must provide parental consent and must abide by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

2. To Win

To be eligible to win a prize under this Challenge, the Solver—

  1. Shall have registered to participate in the Challenge at www.challenge.gov.
  2. Shall have complied with all the requirements under the section on Submission Requirements.
  3. In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States; and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Note: Non- U.S. citizens and nonpermanent residents can participate as a member of a team that otherwise satisfies the eligibility criteria but will not be eligible to win a monetary prize (in whole or in part); however, their participation as part of a winning team, if applicable, may be recognized when results are announced.
  4. In the case of an individual, he/she may not be an employee of the NIH; an individual involved in formulation of the Challenge and/or serving on the technical evaluation panel; any other individual involved with the design, production, execution, distribution, or evaluation of this Challenge; or members of the individual’s immediate family (specifically, a parent, stepparent, spouse, domestic partner, child, sibling, or step-sibling).
  5. An individual, team, or entity that is currently on the Excluded Parties List (https://www.epls.gov/) will not be selected as a Finalist or prize winner.
  6. In the case of an entity, may not be a federal entity; and in the case of an individual, may not be a federal employee acting within the scope of his or her employment.
  7. Federal employees otherwise permitted to participate in the Challenge shall not work on their submission during assigned duty hours. Note: Federal ethical conduct rules may restrict or prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain outside activities, so any federal employee not excluded under the prior paragraph seeking to participate in this Challenge outside the scope of employment should consult his/her agency’s ethics official prior to developing a submission.
  8. Federal grantees may not use federal funds to develop Challenge submissions.
  9. Federal contractors may not use federal funds from a contract to develop Challenge submissions or to fund efforts in support of a Challenge submission.

10. An individual shall not be deemed ineligible to win because the individual used federal facilities or consulted with federal employees during the Challenge provided that such facilities and/or employees, as applicable, are made available on an equitable basis to all individuals and teams participating in the Challenge.

All questions regarding the Challenge should be directed to NIAAAChallengePrize@mail.nih.gov and answers will be posted and updated as necessary at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/research/challenge-prize under Frequently Asked Questions. Questions from Solvers that may reveal proprietary information related to solutions under development addressed to NIAAA will be held in strictest confidence.

Winners
First Prize $200,000.00 Won by: BACtrack
Solution: BACtrack Skyn
Description: This device is worn on the wrist and offers continuous and non-invasive monitoring of a user’s BAC. Alcohol is detected using a fuel-cell technology similar to that in devices used by law enforcement for roadside alcohol testing. The device connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone to store data. http://www.bactrack.com/pages/bactrack-skyn-wearable-alcohol-monitor
Second Prize $100,000.00 Won by: Milo
Solution:
Description: Milo's wrist-worn blood alcohol sensor wearable pairs with a smartphone and uses disposable cartridges to continuously track BAC. www.milosensor.com
Honorable Mention Won by: BioInk
Solution: BioInk
Description: A color-changing tattoo design
Honorable Mention Won by: Team affiliated with Florida International University
Solution: TAMS
Description: TAMS (transdermal alcohol monitoring system)

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Solutions
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Rules

To Participate

This Challenge is open to any ‘‘Solver’’ where ‘‘Solver’’ is defined as an individual, a group of individuals (i.e., a team), or an entity. Whether singly or as part of a group or entity, individuals younger than 18 participating in the Challenge must provide parental consent and must abide by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

  1. To Win

To be eligible to win a prize under this Challenge, the Solver—

  1. Shall have registered to participate in the Challenge at www.challenge.gov.
  2. Shall have complied with all the requirements under this section on Eligibility.
  3. In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States; and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Note: Non- U.S. citizens and nonpermanent residents can participate as a member of a team that otherwise satisfies the eligibility criteria but will not be eligible to win a monetary prize (in whole or in part); however, their participation as part of a winning team, if applicable, may be recognized when results are announced.
  4. In the case of an individual, he/she may not be an employee of the NIH; an individual involved in formulation of the Challenge and/or serving on the technical evaluation panel; any other individual involved with the design, production, execution, distribution, or evaluation of this Challenge; or members of the individual’s immediate family (specifically, a parent, stepparent, spouse, domestic partner, child, sibling, or step-sibling).
  5. An individual, team, or entity that is currently on the Excluded Parties List (https://www.epls.gov/) will not be selected as a Finalist or prize winner.
  6. In the case of an entity, may not be a federal entity; and in the case of an individual, may not be a federal employee acting within the scope of his or her employment.
  7. Federal employees otherwise permitted to participate in the Challenge shall not work on their submission during assigned duty hours. Note: Federal ethical conduct rules may restrict or prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain outside activities, so any federal employee not excluded under the prior paragraph seeking to participate in this Challenge outside the scope of employment should consult his/her agency’s ethics official prior to developing a submission.
  8. Federal grantees may not use federal funds to develop Challenge submissions.
  9. Federal contractors may not use federal funds from a contract to develop Challenge submissions or to fund efforts in support of a Challenge submission.

10. An individual shall not be deemed ineligible to win because the individual used federal facilities or consulted with federal employees during the Challenge provided that such facilities and/or employees, as applicable, are made available on an equitable basis to all individuals and teams participating in the Challenge.

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