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Breathometer turns your smartphone into a breathalyzer


March 13, 2013

The Breathometer is designed to tackle the huge problem of drinking and driving

The Breathometer is designed to tackle the huge problem of drinking and driving

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Driving under the influence is far from a rare occurrence, with an estimated 112 million people getting behind the wheel while over the limit in 2010 alone. Breathometer aims to lower that figure by providing a simple and convenient method of keeping track of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

The device connects to your phone via an audio jack and is compatible with iPhones and iPods running iOS5 and above, and Android devices running at least version 4 of the OS (Ice Cream Sandwich). Users will have to download a simple companion app, after which it's simply a case of blowing into the side of the device to receive your current BAC.

Breathometer will also keep track of your progress while sobering up, making sure that you've waited long enough before getting back behind the wheel. The design is fairly elegant, and its small size and sliding audio jack should make it a comfortable fit for both pockets and key chains.

The device has been in development for around six months, with deliveries expected to begin this summer (Northern Hemisphere) and prices starting at US$20. Despite having a full 32 days left on Indiegogo, the project has already passed the half-way point of its $25,000 funding goal.

People wishing to check their sobriety using their smartphone do have at least one other choice – the BreathalEyes app provides blood alcohol readings by detecting and measuring involuntary eye movements.

Check out the promotional video for Breathometer below.

Source: Breathometer via Indiegogo

About the Author
Chris Wood Chris specializes in mobile technology for Gizmag, but also likes to dabble in the latest gaming gadgets. He has a degree in Politics and Ancient History from the University of Exeter, and lives in Gloucestershire, UK. In his spare time you might find him playing music, following a variety of sports or binge watching Game of Thrones. All articles by Chris Wood
1 Comment

I'm 56, now living in California, but originally from Indiana. I joined a Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) chapter back there, in the mid-80s. I joined after a close family friend was killed by a drunk driver, and the cop on the scene didn't, for some reason, issue a DUI citation. So I went on an activist tear to collect evidence and then get the prosecutor to go arrest him; and then get said drunk driver what was, at the time, the toughest jail sentence in Indiana history for the then-not-even-thought-much-about problem of drunk drivers. I must interrupt myself to go on a brief tangent: The bitter irony of the story is that the judge who issued that sentence died, a few years later, in a single-car DUI accident in which he was the under-the-influence driver. But now I digress. Sorry.

Of course, MADD and other groups and initiatives have made it very unpopular, indeed, to drive drunk, these days (as it should be, of course); and have toughened the laws on it in every single state. Even since back in the '80s, MADD and others have issued little wallet cards which help one calculate what is their likely BAC... that is, if they, first, bothered to actually look at it; and, second, were honest with themselves.

And, of course, we've long had the whole designated driver, thing. And then there are activists, like me, who will actually take the keys out of a person's hand at a party or in a bar; and I'm a big enough guy that they can't get their keys back; and I always offer to either take 'em home myself, or get 'em a cab. But I'll put my nose right in their business and make 'em want to beat me to a pulp to keep 'em from getting behind the wheel, if I have to. I've been hit, too... but, of course, they got hit back harder, and so that was always the end of that.

So, then, with all that knowledge and experience being an anti-drunk drivng advocate/activist, I'm here to tell you that only the most inherently responsible and self-examining people will even bother to use this or, if they did, would stop themselves from driving if the app showed their BAC was too high. Sadly, that's a tiny portion of the population.

This is an app that is long overdue; one that I suggested someone should write (with an accompanying plug-in hardware device, exactlly like this one) several years ago. Now it's here, and that's great; but while I think it could actually become fairly widely used, I predict its recommendations will also be fairly widely ignored. In the end, the only thing that really works is one of those interlocking devices that the Courts usually order for repeated DUI offenders wherein they must breath into a tube while sitting in the driver's seat, and pass a BAC test, before they may start their car.

Er... well... that and putting 'em in jail for a few years.

All that said, of course I hope this thing will catch on. Even if it doesn't, though, if it only saves one life out there somewhere it'll be worth it, I suppose.

Gregg DesElms
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