A gadget that can detect booze when a drunk touches a button is on its way to our vehicles.
Some impressive but optional technology may make a dent in drunk driving over the next decade. Two companies are developing a device that’s capable of checking blood alcohol content through human skin, using an infra-red sensor—but it’s currently as big as a bread-box and there’s work to be done. They want to make it cheaper, and small enough to fit on the a car’s start button—and that’s when the huge potential becomes obvious. Takata—a Japanese company with a US base in Auburn Hills, Michigan—and Albuquerque outfit TruTouch picked up a $2.25-million grant from the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety towards making the device, which is as accurate as a blood test. Takata wants the unique reader to cost no more than $200, with a snappy processing time of 200 milliseconds. “Breathalyzers are invasive,” says vice president of business development Kirk Morris. “You have to blow into a tube… Drivers pushing a button wouldn’t even know it’s there.” It’s reckoned it’ll be on the market in eight to ten years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that the project “is seen as a potential tool for keeping drunk drivers from being able to operate their car… The technology could be voluntarily installed as an option for new cars and signal a new frontier in the fight against drunk driving.”