BACtrack iPhone breathalyzer could save your life this holiday season

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, car crashes from impaired driving due to alcohol consumption spike over the holiday period. This shouldn't be much of a surprise, as it's the time of year that people generally go to more parties than normal and enjoy the company of friends and family with good food and drink. However, thanks to our iPhones and some innovative technology from a host of companies, we now have it in our power to know without a doubt if we've had too much to drink before we even get behind the wheel.

The BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer from BACtrack is the world's first Bluetooth mobile breathalyzer that allows anyone to check their own or a friend's blood alcohol content from an iPhone or Android device. The BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer itself is no bigger than a pack a cigarettes. The user simply breathes into it and his or her blood alcohol level is calculated, with its results being sent to the companion BACtrack app.

The iPhone app makes it easy to read your results in numerical format, but it also gives you a written warning, such as "You may be experiencing a loss of shyness and slight euphoria." However, instead of just telling you how inebriated you are, the app also allows you to track it over a period of time -- and, more importantly -- can tell you when your BAC will return to 0.00 percent so you can drive again.

The app also allows you take photos of your drinks and log your drinking habits in a built-in journal. You can share your BAC results with a private list of people, anonymously on the web (contributing to real-time BAC results around the world, which you can view) or via your social networks on Twitter and Facebook. The social integration may seem odd, but it can help notify your friends that you need a ride home when you are too drunk to drive.

BACtrack has been a global leader in breathalyzer technology for more than a decade and the engineering that went into its BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer shows it. Its mobile breathalyzer uses an industry-leading Xtend ElectroChemical Fuel Cell Sensor, which is a police-grade cell. The company says it is not only appropriate for personal use, but professional use as well, including in military, hospital, clinical, business and school settings. The BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer displays BAC results to a full three decimal places (0.000 percent). It measures 1.75 x 2.75 x 0.63 inches and weighs just 1.75 ounces (47 grams). It's rechargeable via the included micro-USB charger.

The BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer isn't a gift for everyone. Indeed, it may offend some people if they receive it. However, it'd be great to see bar and pub owners keeping one of these behind the bar. It also gives those responsible drinkers another option for keeping tabs on their fun and alerting them when it's time to let someone else get behind the wheel.

The BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer costs US$149.99. The BACtrack app is a free download. It's one of the few iPhone accessories that can actually save a life this holiday season.