Feeling tipsy? New apps read blood alcohol levels, hail a taxi


  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013

TAXI!: Before getting behind the wheel after a night out, a driver can test his blood alcohol level with new apps that not only give a reading but can call a cab. — Reuters

TORONTO: Before getting behind the wheel after a night out, a driver can test his blood alcohol level with new apps that not only give a reading but can call a cab. 

Breathometer, for iPhones and Android smartphones, and BACtrack, for iPhones, display a user's blood alcohol level within seconds on smartphone-connected breathalysers. 

"People think, 'Oh, I'm driving around the corner,' but it's not until they get pulled over that they realise they're over the limit," said Charles Michael Yim, chief executive of Breathometer, based in Burlingame, California. 

More than 1.2 million people were arrested in the United States in 2011 for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data. 

Yim said his company's aim is to prevent drunk driving by raising awareness of alcohol levels and enabling drivers to make smarter decisions. 

The Breathometer plugs into a smartphone's headphone jack, and the user blows on the device. The BACtrack connects to the iPhone via Bluetooth. Both use sensors that meet US Food and Drug Administration standards and can detect blood alcohol levels with accuracy within 0.01%, according to the companies. 

Breathalyzers have been around since the 1950s. By pairing them with smartphones and making them smaller and more cost effective, more people will be able to use them, Yim said. 

"We are catering to a completely different audience that wouldn't have considered buying one before," he said. 

Breathometer's breathalyzer is the size of a car key and fits into a pocket or on a key chain. The app can detect a user's GPS location, order a cab if the user can't drive home, and estimate how long it will take for the user to become sober. 

"Just checking blood alcohol levels can help you be more aware of your body. If you blow 0.02% or 0.04% you might think, 'I better stop drinking,'" Yim said. 

In all 50 US states, a blood alcohol level above 0.08% is considered drunk driving. The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending the limit be reduced to 0.05%. More than 10,000 people died in drunk driving accidents in the United States in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

The Breathometer app reads signals after the user has blown into the breathalyser. An ethanol sensor embedded in the device detects alcohol on the breath and converts this into a signal, which the app processes. 

The app, which costs US$49 (RM159.72), will be released worldwide in October on the Internet and in stores the following month. 

San Francisco-based BACtrack, founded in 2001, was the first company to receive US government clearance to sell breathalysers for personal use. Its breathalyser, which includes a mouthpiece, costs US$150 (RM488.93). 

The app also tracks a user's drinking habits in a graph, and can estimate when a user's blood alcohol level will return to zero. Users can also share their blood alcohol levels through text message, Facebook or Twitter. 

"It's not about whether you're at 0.05 or 0.08%. If you even have 0.01% you should not be driving," said Yim. — Reuters 

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

Next In Tech News

MCO: DOSM to restructure face-to-face Census 2020 interviews, public urged to complete census online
Trump pardons former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski
Tencent super app WeChat celebrates a decade of influence in China’s online world, but are its best years behind it?
WhatsApp users’ phone numbers and chats exposed on Google
Malwarebytes says some of its emails were breached by SolarWinds hackers
Alibaba's Jack Ma makes first live appearance in three months in online meet
MCMC denies issuing poster warning public not to use #SiBodohKauDengarSini
British hospitals use blockchain to track Covid-19 vaccines
With free buses and WhatsApp, southern Africa steps up storm preparedness
As online shopping soars, US grocery chain experiments with automated pickup kiosks

Stories You'll Enjoy