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Gadget Freak Case #207: Android Breathalyzer in an Altoids Box
3/2/2012

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naperlou
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Great for Safety
naperlou   3/2/2012 9:35:42 AM
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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.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Great for Safety
Rob Spiegel   3/2/2012 2:54:57 PM
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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. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Great for Safety
Charles Murray   3/2/2012 5:59:40 PM
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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.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Great for Safety
Rob Spiegel   3/5/2012 11:55:00 AM
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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.

Tool_maker
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Re: Great for Safety
Tool_maker   3/26/2012 3:28:44 PM
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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.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Great for Safety
Rob Spiegel   3/26/2012 3:51:39 PM
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Wow. So I take it that the law requires those convicted of DUI to have these systems installed. That creates a good number of forced customers.

Tool_maker
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Re: Great for Safety
Tool_maker   3/26/2012 4:54:20 PM
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I am not sure if it is up to the judge's descretion or it applies to everyone in Missouri, but it is great for his business. However, the customers are not forced, they can forego driving.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Great for Safety
Rob Spiegel   3/27/2012 11:03:55 AM
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Good point Tool-maker. So this is not technically a mandate to purchase. Like auto insurance, you only have to buy the tool if you choose to drive. 

Al
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Iron
Bluetooth Gadgets
Al   3/2/2012 11:01:31 PM
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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.

Mydesign
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Re: Bluetooth Gadgets
Mydesign   3/5/2012 12:00:52 AM
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1 saves
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.

Al
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Iron
Re: Bluetooth Gadgets
Al   3/5/2012 3:02:39 AM
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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

cvandewater
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Gold
Re: Bluetooth Gadgets
cvandewater   3/6/2012 4:21:27 AM
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Hi Mydesign,

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.

Mydesign
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Platinum
Re: Bluetooth Gadgets
Mydesign   3/6/2012 4:34:29 AM
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1 saves
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.

cvandewater
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Gold
Re: Bluetooth Gadgets
cvandewater   3/6/2012 4:56:06 AM
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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.

Charles Murray
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Re: Bluetooth Gadgets
Charles Murray   3/6/2012 6:18:34 PM
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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.

http://www.alcoholalert.com/drunk-driving-statistics.html

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Bluetooth Gadgets
Rob Spiegel   3/7/2012 3:23:04 PM
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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:

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20110906/article/110909748

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: Bluetooth Gadgets
Cadman-LT   5/31/2012 9:41:54 AM
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Yes, unavoidable must certainly be a matter of opinion. Seems to me every drink is definitely avoidable under any circumstances.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Bluetooth Gadgets
Rob Spiegel   3/5/2012 12:04:20 PM
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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.

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
I really like this concept!
Nancy Golden   3/2/2012 4:46:17 PM
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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

IOIO Wiki

http://bit.ly/wJRPqv

 and that link tells you where to buy it. Now, let's see, what would be a good app...

 

vimalkumarp
User Rank
Gold
Android Breathalyzer in an Altoids Box
vimalkumarp   3/3/2012 7:26:14 AM
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This is really useful and handy device. This can be used effectively to monitor the status by oneself rather than by the authorities. it is like improving point of care for  a medical device

Absalom
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Gold
Loss of revenue
Absalom   3/5/2012 12:50:03 PM
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I wonder if this device will be outlawed in some areas as are radar detectors. Both are devices that reduce the revenue generated by fines and traffic laws are designed to be money generators.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Loss of revenue
Rob Spiegel   3/5/2012 1:15:14 PM
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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.

Jon Titus
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Sensor problems
Jon Titus   3/5/2012 12:54:29 PM
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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. 

Al
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Iron
Re: Sensor problems
Al   3/5/2012 4:08:46 PM
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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.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Sensor problems
Charles Murray   3/5/2012 7:10:49 PM
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Even as a novelty device, Al, this is a great application. Not many novelty devices offer the real possibility of saving lives. Kudos.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Sensor problems
Rob Spiegel   3/6/2012 2:30:54 PM
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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.

Leigh
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Silver
Re: Sensor problems
Leigh   3/8/2012 1:37:29 AM
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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.

Angel
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Iron
The Android APP
Angel   12/11/2012 8:47:50 PM
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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 angel.maldonado.r@gmail.com, so that we can speak about your product? Thanks

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