Everyone has their own homespun method for measuring if they’re too drunk to drive. (“If I can list 10 trivial facts about the 1964 World Series winning lineup, or recite all of Benjamin’s theses on the concept of history, I’m fine!”) And it’s safe to say that every single method is wrong and unreliable.
There are, of course, some much more accurate high-tech options that can be applied. But many just aren’t all that practical in social settings. A handful of apps do promise to diagnose your inebriation levels quickly, but they involve manually inputting data about yourself, such as your height and weight. But after one too many, either your thumbs grow larger or the keypads on your phone smaller, and the task can soon become exasperating. (Not speaking from experience here.)
A new pocket breathalyzer wants to simplify the process and make your head ache just a little less. Floome promises that it’s the most accurate smartphone breathalyzer on the market, or, at least, in development. 2045Tech, the Italian startup behind the project, says they can back up that claim because Floome uses the same fuel-cell sensors as police-grade breathalyzers.
The device plugs into the headphone jack of your iOS, Android, or Windows smartphone. Bumbling drinkers blow into the compact, shell-like instrument—kind of like the way Link plays his ocarina—which collects the sample and displays the user’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) on the phone screen.
Open up the app and enter in your information, and Floome will give you the time, in minutes, that you need to sit it out and recover your buzz-addled self before getting behind the wheel. When time’s up, the device sets off an alarm and prompts you to take one more test to make sure you’re capable of manning a vehicle. Of course, there’s also an option to post your test results to your various social media pages because you just have to let your friends know you’re so responsible. (Or, conversely, it powers a new kind of tech-driven drinking game—“How wasted are you?”)
2045Tech CEO Fabio Penzo says the market is ripe for a high-performance pocket breathalyzer. Citing recent discussion in the U.S. about lowering the BAC limit for drivers, he says that Floome can help drinkers adjust to the new laws, should they be instituted. "You can enjoy the night safely because it is meant to be used to monitor your BAC over the night, giving you hints to better understand your body."
Penzo gives two reasons why Floome upstages its fellow breathalyzer competitors: its patent-pending technology and its design. “The cheap ones aren’t accurate and the accurate ones are very expensive and extremely ugly,” he explains, adding that the goal of the the project "was to combine accuracy, affordability, and great looks." It took several protoypes, Penzo says, to arrive at the egg-shaped capsule that fits in your pocket without feeling that it’s in your pocket.
Apart from its spot-on accuracy, which has less than a 10% margin of error, the device is powered for 25,000 tests, so you’ll never have to charge it. Its design is similarly effective—after all, who would use one of these in public if it were a clunky, inconspicuous blowhorn? The unit, designed by Caterina Falleni and Alessandro Innocenti, comes in a smattering of colors and sports a curvy ergonomic shape that features a slidable spout guard that makes for easy cleaning. According to 2045Tech, the design was tested to give you “the best usability in the field.”
The startup just wrapped up a rapid-fire (eight-day) Indiegogo campaign, where they offered presale rates ($65) to backers. When the product is launched in the fall, units will run for $80 each.