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Car start buttons to detect blood-alcohol levels

The auto supplier, Takata, based in Auburn Hills is partnering with TruTouch, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico and they are working on an incredibly innovative project. The two companies are working on a device that will be able to check a driver's blood-alcohol level through their skin.
Posted: September 30, 2011 - 11:46AM
Author: KC Kelly


The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) is helping Takata and TruTouch to make this blood-alcohol level device possible. The company gave the partners a $2.25-million grant for development.

These blood-alcohol level readers will be as accurate as a true blood test that would be taken at a doctor’s office. The company is doing their best to make the device inexpensive (for what it is) at a price of $200 per unit. Susan Ferguson, the program director for Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety shared that she believes it will take between eight and ten years before we see this device on the market.

So, how will this contraption work? The company will use its already “breadbox-sized” device that uses an infrared sensor for the detection of blood alcohol levels. The team is working on making this device even smaller so that it can actually fit on an automobile’s start button inside the car. The new device will be inexpensive and inconspicuous. These great features make an innovative and ground-breaking new piece of technology to possibly deter drinking and driving.

Kirk Morris, Takata's vice president of business development made this statement: “The goal is to take impaired drivers off the road. Breathalyzers are invasive. You have to blow into a tube. If this technology is to be used on a daily basis, we want it to be noninvasive, not intrusive. Drivers pushing a button wouldn't even know it's there."

Other motivations behind this new device are pioneering, to say the least. The small discreet blood-alcohol level device would be able to decrease the processing time from several seconds to 200 milliseconds. This will possibly make breathalyzer tests obsolete eventually and stop the obtrusive and longer time span on determining blood alcohol levels. Plus, a driver will not have to be put into a position where law enforcement is doing a breathalyzer test on them, which is usually done in public on a street or highway and takes much longer.

In addition, the device is said to be able to function at almost any temperature. This includes room temperature and temperatures from 40 below to 85 degrees, not to mention also at different humidity and vibration levels.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is completely on board with this new blood-alcohol level testing device. In a statement, NHTSA stated that the project, "Is seen as a potential tool for keeping drunk drivers from being able to operate their car if their blood-alcohol concentration is at or above the legal intoxication limit (.08 or higher). The technology could be voluntarily installed as an option for new cars and signal a new frontier in the fight against drunk driving."

Reference: Takata