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article imageA smartphone device could potentially prevent DUIs and save lives

By W. Mark Dendy     Dec 18, 2013 in Technology
Imagine having a couple of drinks and taking a breathalyzer test without a police officer's involvement.
Gadgets like Bactrak and AlcoHAWK have made that possible for several years. But accuracy claims of these devices are often questioned.
Now a new smartphone peripheral and accompanying app, Alcohoot, has entered the market. The developers of Alcohoot profess "police-grade accuracy" based on fuel cell technology. The Alcohoot website says “Put the power of advanced law enforcement breath testing technology into your hands.”
But how accurate is “advanced law enforcement breath testing technology?"
The National Motorists Association says that peer reviewed studies have revealed that a margin of error of 50 % exists when comparing breathalyzer estimates of blood alcohol content to actual blood alcohol content. In application, this means that “a breathalyzer reading of .1 % represents a Blood alcohol content level somewhere between .05 % and .15%, far from accurate.”
While the accuracy of even police-grade breath testers including the new smartphone breathalyzer is questionable, the Alcohoot has much more to offer.
One of the notable features is tracking your consumption over the course of an evening or a month. This requires some data input on the user's part and the functionality of such tracking may lessen as the user becomes more inebriated.
The app also provides a means to find restaurants within walking distance to eat and sober up. The usefulness of this feature could significantly differ depending on how impaired the user is.
Perhaps the most useful feature is the ability to call a cab with the touch of one button.
With a price tag of $119, in the range of many other breathalyzers, the smartphone device may be worth checking out. The app has been developed for both iPhones and Android devices.
Despite police breathalyzer technology's inaccuracies, this could be a tool to help you make a responsible choice – whether to drive after a few drinks.
After all, an attorney, a fine, or an increase in your insurance rate would all cost you a lot more!
Just don't lose your smartphone.
More about Smartphone, breathalyzer, Mobile apps, Drinking, DUI
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