A new device from the Burglinghame, California-based startup Breathometer, called the Breeze, is a breathalyzer that lets drivers with smartphones learn if they are intoxicated before getting pulled over by police. It even lets them summon an Uber if they blow over the legal limit.
“This is really about consumer awareness and being able to make the right decision and learn more about yourself,” said Brian Sturdivant, vice president of marketing for Breeze, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Breeze is a 2.25-inch-long, 1.88-inch-wide wireless device, weighing less than one ounce, that pairs via Bluetooth LE to a smartphone app, according to the Chronicle. It is available for both iOS and Android devices for $100.
The iOS version of Breeze syncs with Apple’s new HealthKit platform, which allows consumers to catalog their blood-alchohol level (BAC). If users blow higher than an .08 BAC, the app triggers a “get home safe” screen with a button that launches the rideshare app. In California, drivers are defined as drunk with a BAC of .08 percent, but are considered “likely” to be impaired with a reading between .05 percent and .07 percent, the Chronicle notes.
Breeze reportedly also provides “intoxicated” users with the option to search Yelp listings for cab companies, uses a person’s phone book contacts to let them phone a friend in case they need a ride, and provides the option to search for hotels and restaurants where they can sleep their intoxication off or sober up with caffeine and food.
The CEO of Breeze’s competitor BACtrack, Keith Nothacker, whose breathalyzer device is very similar to Breeze (and sells for $130), told the Chronicle that his company made the conscious decision not to let their app contact an Uber if the client is intoxicated, because it would send a message of “if you’re drunk, just use this” that would give users a dangerously false sense of security.
Nothacker also said it is not very difficult to summon an Uber, even when someone is drunk. “Everybody has Uber on their phone, and if I want to call Uber, I have that app,” Nothacker said, noting that “It’s a great marketing spin. But we want people to make smart decisions ahead of time. Intoxication begins with the very first drink.”