By Deirdre Tynan • 27 September 2021 • 17:04
A smartphone sensor, like what is used in GPS systems, might be a way to determine if someone is high after consuming cannabis, according to a new study.
According to the study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, which evaluated the feasibility of using smartphone sensor data to identify episodes of cannabis intoxication in the natural environment, a combination of time features – tracking the time of day and day of week – and smartphone sensor data had a 90 per cent rate of accuracy.
“Using the sensors in a person’s phone, we might be able to detect when a person might be experiencing cannabis intoxication and deliver a brief intervention when and where it might have the most impact to reduce cannabis-related harm,” said corresponding author, Tammy Chung, professor of psychiatry and director of the Centre for Population Behavioural Health at the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research.
Cannabis intoxication has been associated with slowed response time, affecting performance at work or school or impairing driving behaviour leading to injuries or fatalities. Existing detection measures, such as blood, urine or saliva tests, have limitations as indicators of cannabis intoxication and cannabis-related impairment in daily life.
The researchers analysed daily data collected from young adults who reported cannabis use at least twice per week. They examined phone surveys, self-initiated reports of cannabis use, and continuous phone sensor data to determine the importance of time of day and day of week in detecting use and identified which phone sensors are most useful in detecting self-reported cannabis intoxication.
They found that time of day and day of week had 60 per cent accuracy in detecting self-reporting of cannabis intoxication and the combination of time features and smartphone sensor data had 90 per cent accuracy in detecting cannabis intoxication.
Travel patterns from GPS data – at times when they reported feeling high – and movement data from accelerometer that detects different motions, were the most important phone sensor features for detection of self-reported cannabis intoxication.
Researchers used low burden methods (tracking time of day and day of week and analysing phone sensor data) to detect intoxication in daily life and found that the feasibility of using phone sensors to detect subjective intoxication from cannabis consumption is strong.
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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.
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