Small, slim, sleek, and familiar: User experiences with an ION wearable research alpha prototype transdermal alcohol monitor

Cassandra J.C. Wright, Mia Miller, Kelly van Egmond, Gabriel Caluzzi, Daniel Anderson-Luxford, Amy Pennay, Emmanuel Kuntsche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Transdermal alcohol monitors can help overcome issues with self-reporting in alcohol research and offer improvements over other biometric monitors as they provide passive and continuous measurement. The ION Wearable has recently entered the market by Milo Sensors; however, user acceptability has yet to be tested. This paper explores user experiences of an ION Wearable Research Alpha Prototype (ION RAP) monitor to determine if it is a feasible device for participant use in research studies. 

Methods and materials: We undertook a qualitative study to explore user experiences of wearing an ION RAP monitor. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 23 participants after they wore an ION RAP for a 24-hour period. Participants were asked about first impressions of the device, physical comfortability, perceptions of the device, social experiences and drinking experiences. We used a deductive framework analysis. 

Results: Overall, participants compared the ION RAP to a fitness watch, describing it as small, sleek, and familiar. Participants mostly reported positive physical and social experiences when wearing the ION RAP. Most participants did not feel that wearing the ION RAP impacted their drinking practices. Participants suggested that it would have greater utility if it were waterproof, and if issues with short battery life were resolved. 

Conclusions: The ION RAP appears to be an acceptable alternative to traditional transdermal alcohol monitors. Future studies should examine acceptability in more diverse populations, including older adults. While user experience data is important, it is also vital that future studies examine its performance in measuring alcohol consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-191
Number of pages6
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number3
Early online dateOct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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