Globally, alcohol abuse is a concern. In the U.S. alone, each year thousands of drivers die because of drunk driving. The number of fatal incidents can be significantly reduced if public had access to Breathalyzer anywhere and anytime. Unfortunately, individuals are not interested to carry such an object at all times.
To address this widespread issue, researchers at the Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, Laval University have found a potential solution: To embed a Breathalyzer in a smartphone.
Of course, the idea is not new with the feat for the idea attempted by several communities.
However, the problem is that currently used technologies to detect blood alcohol levels are not sufficient to be integrated with phones. On the down side, they are expensive, bulky, and complex for mass production and are not durable as it requires chemical sensor replacements.
Therefore, in this scenario, researchers wondered if existing parts in phones could be used to measure alcohol content in the blood. This is to avoid the attempt to integrate an existing breathalyzer technology in the phone. The quest for this lead to an interesting finding: An optical breathalyzer integrated to the screen of the phone.
Meanwhile, the operating principle of the model is based on evaporation of breath fog on the phone screen. The fogging of window of the vehicle leads to forming of thousands of microdroplets on the surface. In the instance breath contains alcohol, the evaporation of microdroplets is faster because evaporation of alcohol is faster that the water that is present in the breath of the person.
This required researchers to be ingenious to measure the evaporation rate.