Alcohoot turns your smartphone into a breathalyzer

An Israeli startup has developed a law enforcement-grade super sleek breathalyzer that's small enough to fit in your pocket.

Breathalyzers are expensive, bulky, not always accurate, and quite frankly, not exactly the type of device you want to bust out in social situations. Awkward.

Alcohoot, an Israeli startup, hopes to change that stigma and help reduce incidents of drunk driving with a functional, accurate, super sleek breathalyzer that plugs right into your iPhone, iPad or Android mobile device.

The startup officially launched the product and an accompanying crowdfunding campaign yesterday. Backers can reserve the device was $75, with the first batch to be shipped by September.

The device uses fuel cell sensors, the same kind used by law enforcement, making it extremely accurate. Unlike other breathalyzers on the market, it doesn't use semiconductor sensors, which tend to have a short life and aren't alcohol specific, according to Alcohoot. The device also has an air flow sensor to increase accuracy.

An accurate device is obviously the most important feature. Still, Alcohoot co-founders Jonathan Ofir and Ben Biron understood that unless the device was affordable, compact, offered other functionality and was cool looking, no one is going to use it.

So, Ofir and Biron paid special attention to the design, cost and functionality of the device. The challenge was to create something super compact, but also attractive so you don't feel awkward when you take it out in a social atmosphere, Ofir explains in a promo on the Alcohoot site.

The startup, which is currently in the process of raising capital from angel investors, also added another layer with an app that turns the device into a more valuable tool.

An app can track your blood-alcohol content levels over an evening out or over longer periods of time. The app can direct you to the nearest restaurant or even call you a cab if you're BAC is too high.

The device, like any analytical instrument, need calibration to ensure accuracy.The mobile app will send users an alert when it needs service. The company offers a service to calibrate the device when necessary.

Photo: Alcohoot

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