This is a very useful device. You can, in privacy, ascertain your state and act accordingly. I looked up the board, and it seems to be a great way to extend the functionality of an Android device. The use of Bluetooth and the Altoids can makes it easy, quick and discrete. It seems that with the latest Bluetooth standards that is quickly becoming the way to go.
One of the things we're seeing with recent gadgets is the use of smartphone, particularly Androids. It's understandable, since the Android offers computing power in a much more portable manner than a desktop or a laptop. Yet one more use for a smartphone.
There was a time I would have said that a device like this wouldn't get used by the people (i.e. slightly drunk people) who need it most. But attitudes about drunk driving have changed dramatically in the past decade, and I do think this device could now play a valuable role. This inventor may have developed a potentially succssful app.
I agree, Chuck. I believe people are very conscious about avoiding drunk driving convictions. While this device has no legal endorsement, it may let party goers know they could run into trouble if they drive. Good device.
Perhaps attitudes are changing, but my nephew owns a company that installs car audio systems. For the past year the overwhelming bulk of his work has been installing breath interlock systems in the autos of people convicted of driving under the influence. Too many people are sure they are the only people on the road who can handle the amount of alcohol they have consumed.
With the latest batch of open source software and hardware, doing a Bluetooth smart phone accessory is actually pretty easy. I did a lot of research on the various options (Arduino, etc.) before starting this project, IOIO is the most mature one out there right now for interfacing with smart phones and Bluetooth. Unfortunately, it's Android only for now as Apple does not allow access to the iOS Bluetooth stack without special approval. Although it seems that has changed with the iPhone 4S, I've seen a few folks doing Bluetooth accessories for the 4S, that's encouraging.
If anyone is interested, the product version of this project will be out in about a month, it'll be called the Droidalyzer. Here's some pics of the production board and case.
AI, very interesting funny project. It's unbelievable that we can make a breathalyzer for less than $80. Am planning to have a try for this and next time onwards before driving I can make sure that am within the limit of allowed alcohol level. The video shows some other call feature, is it from the breathalyzer screen or from mobile.
Hi Mydesign, after each alcohol result, a screen pops up on the Droidalyzer mobile app with a number of options: call a taxi, call a friend, facebook and twitter posts, etc. If you've got an Android phone, you can get the app from http://droidalyzer.com, there is a simulation mode and you'll get the gist on how it works. If you can wait about a month, the product version will be out and will cost $50
How about *not* drinking before you must drive? I am always amazed that people try to find how close they can get to breaking the law and putting others in danger before actually murdering someone. I don't see the value in that behavior.
Cvanderwater, that an ideal situation and more preferable. But due to some common commitments and business networking we may force for a sip in parties. I mean unavoidable circumstances, otherwise we are very cautious about it.
I guess "unavoidable" is a matter of opinion, unless someone is putting a firearm to your head to force you to drink... I will gladly take a beer if I am traveling by bus or bicycle, but when I have to drive then even if every one of my colleagues is drinking alcohol, I will still order a non-alcoholic beverage.
My simple reasoning is: I don't want to be able to say to myself "it would have been different if I had not been drinking" in case something would go wrong. So, I don't drink when I know I still need to drive, or I make sure I don't need to drive. It is very simple actually.
You're absolutely right, cvandwater, it actually is very simpl to avoid driving drunk. Yet, somehow, 32% of our annual highway fatalities in the U.S. are caused by drivers over the limit. Seems incredible, but it's true.
That is an astonishing statistic, Chuck. I had no idea it was that high. Makes you wonder how high the percentage is for texting and talking on cell phones. In some cases, cell phone records are used to see if the driver was on the phone when a fatal accident occurred:
I guess the advantage of the Android is that it is open source. Seems like a wise decision on Google's part to develop the technology, and then give it away. So you product -- as with thousands of others -- is more likely to be developed for the Android.
WOW! Cool project - The IOIO board is very exciting to read about! To be able to have your phone receive data from external sensors and utilize that data through an app opens up a whole new world of applications, limited only by the imagination! And the price for the board at only $50 is amazing. I am already looking to see where I can clear my schedule so that I can check this out in detail and maybe start playing with it myself. The Build Instructions provide a great link to the board designer with lots more detail at
I think you have a point, Absalom. But I think it may be because this device -- while valid and perhaps accurate -- would not meet the criteria for devices used by law enforcement. Even so, it this device discouraged a drunk from driving, it provides a real service.
In the early 1970's my brother Chris experimented with several similar sensors manufactured by the Figaro Engineering Company in Japan. He found the sensors could detect various chemicals but didn't offer enough sensitivity or selectivity to alcohol in the presence of other chemicals to yield a quantitative result. I bet the same holds true for the sensor in this project. The data sheet for a similar sensor (MQ-3 from Hanwei Electronics) shows a predominate response from ethanol, closely matched by the responses to methane, propane, and hexane. Also, response varies with respect to relative humidity.
So, the project might offer a qualitative measure of alcohol, but I wouldn't trust it to detect alcohol well enough to avoid a drunken-driving arrest. It's best to not drink and drive. So, treat this project as a novelty to share with friends.
Also, breathalyzers use a fuel-cell arrangement in which the oxidation of alcohol at a platinum electrode produces a current than the instrument can convert to a parts-per-million or other value. The platinum-based sensors can last for a long time, but the semiconductor sensors last only for a year or two. Perhaps micro-engineering technologies will one day yield a surface that produces a selective response for ethanol. That type of sensor would not react to other chemicals.
Hey Jon, you are absolutely correct, semiconductor based alcohol sensors are not accurate as one may think. As such, this project is marketed and should be used as a novelty device only. I purposely stayed away from adding a specific Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) reading to the app for this very reason. There was recently an independent study done on the accuracy of consumer semi-conductor based breathalyzers here, it's quite interesting.
Thanks for the link, Al. that was good thinking to avoid adding a Blood Alcohol Content reading to the app. Very responsible. That could certainly be used to justify what might actually be drunken driving.
As an engineer who designed a standards certified breathalyser 10 years ago, you are correct about the selectivity issues of semiconductor sensors. They also have issues around flow rates influencing readings.
We used an inhouse assembled platinum catalyst phosphoric acid micro cell with a solenoid driven silicone bellows to sample the airstream after 1.5 litres of air been expelled. The ethanol would be 'reacted' fuel cell like to produce a peak in around 5 seconds. Even then stated accuracy was +-10%.
This is the method most law enforcement units use. Evidential units will normally use infrared with pre and post sampling of a reference gas.
I think your idea is genius!!! It sounds like a perfect way for parents to ensure their children's safety when they are away at college. Can you e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can speak about your product? Thanks
Eleven years ago one of those rare, brilliant moments emerged from the crack staff of Design News: Let’s put the tinkerers among our audience community to work in designing and building some truly wacky devices. And Gadget Freak was born.
Followers of Design News’ Gadget Freak blogs will have the opportunity next week to take home a wireless remote demo package that can be used to build garage door openers, tire pressure monitors, keyless entry systems, and much more.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.