What if you could tell, without a shadow of a doubt, whether your friend was safe to drive after he or she had a few drinks?
DrinkMate, a miniature breathalyzer crowdfunded through Kickstarter last summer, promises to do just that.
Without a battery, mouthpiece or display, the device works with both Androids and iPhones, fits on a keychain and attaches to the phone. The user would blow across the device for a few seconds, and the corresponding DrinkMate app would give a response and determine whether the user could drive.
“Both the Android and iOS versions took about a year to develop,” said DrinkMate developer Shaun Masagave. “We had a successful Android campaign in August of 2014, and it took us until July of 2015 before we were confident enough to go forward with the iOS campaign.”
The video on DrinkMate’s website shows users how the breathalyzer is meant to be used — socially.
Ultimately, while the DrinkMate device and app will work together to inform a person whether he or she can legally drive, Masagave said he hopes the person’s friends will see the result and pressure them to not drive if they legally can’t.
Andrew Coleman, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, already uses a personal breathalyzer. Personal breathalyzers can be found at drug stores and are often about the size and shape of an iPhone.
“Honestly, it’s a lifesaver,” Coleman said of his own experiences with his breathalyzer. “[It] stopped people from driving who might have seemed OK, but who weren’t completely drunk and weren’t completely sober and who blew over the limit anyway.”
However, UCF Police Department’s Community Relations Officer Peter Stephens noted how easy it would be to use the device — and all personal breathalyzers — incorrectly.
While the DrinkMate website asks the user to wait 20 minutes after his or her last drink before using it, and also makes the user promise not to drive drunk before opening the app, those warnings could be easily ignored.
“A much better solution is to have that designated driver or use the various free shuttle services of the SGA,” Stephens suggested. “And don’t forget their cab voucher program. Or even pony up that extra couple of bucks for you and your friends to take a cab.”
Amber Hair is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.