Wirelessly transform your smartphone into a breathalyzer in seconds with this sleek, portable product that fits anywhere.
Beyond providing dependable blood alcohol concentration levels—the Breathometer app is designed to help you make informed, dependable decisions.
Good taste in Pinot and a Breeze. He’s a keeper. (Breathometer)
We’ve all been there: a Monday happy hour at the bar turns into an unexpectedly sloppy night out — something you immediately regret when you slink into work with a throbbing headache the next morning.
This elevator ride of shame is something that a new gizmo from a former contestant on the ABC show Shark Tank hopes to help you avoid. Breeze is a new Bluetooth breathalyzer that connects to your phone and aims to make you more aware of your drinking habits and state of drunkenness in real time. The inventor, Breeze founder and CEO Charles Michael Yim, says that the gadget could ultimately help you skip that “one more” drink that pushes you past the line of legal sobriety — or, at the very least, get you home safe by recognizing when you’re over the limit and automatically calling an Uber or a cab to pick you up.
“It’s not necessarily for the party outlet only,” Yim told Yahoo Tech in an (alcohol-free) demo last week. “This is really a great product for the casual drinker. A lot of our customers are moms that have dinner parties, dads who have poker nights, early professionals who have happy hour — it kind of extends beyond safety.”
I tested Breeze out for a week. The gizmo itself is a light, compact blue plastic gadget that’s shaped like a teardrop; I carried it aroundwith me whenever I enjoyed a glass of something potent. I found it practical for any casual drinker.
Breeze comes with both a keychain cap and a clip cap so you can bring it with you wherever you go. (Daniel Bean/Yahoo Tech)
It works like this: After downloading the iOS- and Android-compatible Breathometer app, you’ll be asked to either sign in with Facebook or to create your own account with just your name, email, and password. (I’d strongly suggest the latter: God knows what Facebook would do with your blood-alcohol levels on file).
The app needs you to create an account so that it can log your blood-alcohol content (BAC) into HealthKit, Apple’s newly released health monitoring suite of software, and graph your consumption levels over time. Though Breeze is technically the first product to harness this area of HealthKit, the company is still working out the kinks to ensure that everything’s running smoothly, and I wasn’t able to play with that feature.
In the meantime, however, the information is useful whenever you’ve had a couple of beers and want to know just how drunk you really are. You do that by first turning on Breeze via a discreet button. Its shiny plastic back will light up, and — once it connects — a red circle in the app that reads Turn on Breeze will become a blue Start button.
Like many mobile gadgets, the Bluetooth connection on Breeze isn’t perfect, and I often found myself having to turn it on and off over and over again until the app finally recognized the device. After a while, I figured out that it helped to first turn the device on and then open the app.
Needless to say, it’s a little disconcerting that a gadget meant for drunk people requires so much fumbling to make it work.
Once you get it connected and press the Start button, Breathometer will ask if you’ve waited 20 minutes since your last drink. As you may have learned back in the days of driver’s ed, it takes about that amount of time for your mouth to absorb the alcohol from your last drink and process it in your bloodstream. Premature breathalyzing will therefore give you skewed results that make you seem drunker than you actually are.
But, in practice, 20 minutes is a long time to wait around at a bar andnot drink. Though Breathometer will set an alarm to remind you once that time has passed, my friends and I usually just ignored the warning and began blowing into the gadget’s mouthpiece. This, too, takes some practice, as you must blow for a continual five seconds, and anyone who’s been drinking underestimates how winded she might feel after such a feat. Not to mention, if you do this in a bar, it will become a conversation starter for anybody nearby.
Almost immediately, your BAC will appear on the screen of your phone, which will have changed its shade depending on just how far down the watering hole you’ve gone. The closer you are to the legal driving limit — 0.08 BAC in all 50 states — the more foreboding the look and feel.
A portrait of my sobriety last week.
As soon as you log in over zero, Breathometer calculates the approximate time that it’ll take for you to be sober again and offers a general evaluation of your current state of mind. I found this to be, by far, the most helpful feature. In most cases, both my friends and I were shocked to see how long it would take to make it completely back to zero, and vowed to slow down during happy hour. (One friend-who-will-not-be-named logged a 0.126 BAC at 9:12 p.m. on a Monday, and she was told it’d take until 5:36 a.m. to sober up completely.)
In the instances when you’re over the legal limit, Breathometer automatically gives you the option to Get Home Safe. If you tap it, you’ll be brought to a page that will either order you an Uber car (with whom Breathometer has signed a two-year contract), call a nearby cab company, or phone a friend. It’s a very straightforward process, and, in my experience, easy to navigate for a drunk person.
Usually the people I tested Breeze with were skeptical of its accuracy (especially those who registered as very drunk). But, according to Yim, Breeze returns results of medical and law-enforcement grade accuracy. Part of that is thanks to a very effective electrochemical cell sensor that doesn’t need recalibration. Breeze is also FDA registered as a Class I medical device (which means it carries very low risk), and was tested both internally and by a third-party company whose job it is to evaluate breathalyzers. In a test comparing it with the much heftier, police-grade Lifeloc breathalyzer, the two devices had the exact same results, according to Yim.
Those certifications are important, especially if you’re relying on Breeze to tell you whether you can drive a car. This is not a party toy, but an incredibly helpful gadget that will help you make decisions that should not be left up to a tipsy person’s whims. Anyone who drinks casually could use a little help in that department. Even if it means discreetly blowing into a piece of plastic in the corner of a party.
SMART PHONE COMPATIBILITY
- Breeze works with most iOS devices that support iOS 7.0.1 and above
- iPhone 4s / 5 / 5c / 5s / 6 / 6+
iPod Touch 5
- Breeze works with selected Android devices running version 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and above
- Nexus 5
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S5