Drinking and driving is something that should never be done, but all too many people have "one too many" alcoholic beverages at their local bar or sports venue, then get behind the wheel to drive home. While many of these folks may never get pulled over, they're still endangering themselves and others. Since it's difficult to judge just how impaired you might be after imbibing a few brewskies, people take a lot more chances than they should. That's where BACtrack Mobile (US$149.99) comes in handy. It's a pocket-sized calibrated breathalyzer that syncs over Bluetooth to an app on your iOS device to warn you of when you should call a taxi or ask a friend for a ride home.
- Dimensions: 1.75 x 2.75 x 0.63 inches (44.45 x 69.85 x 16.0 mm)
- Weight: 1.7 ounces (47 grams)
- Battery: Rechargeable with included micro-USB cable
- Sensor Technology: Xtend electrochemical fuel cell
- Warm-up time: 10 seconds
- Blowing time: 5 seconds
- BAC range: 0.000 to 0.400 percent BAC
- Compatibility: iPhone 4s, 5, 5s, 5c; iPad 3, 4, Air; iPad mini, iPad mini with Retina display, iPod touch 5th generation
The BACtrack Mobile is a small, discreet white box that fits into its own little carrying bag that can be placed into a pocket or bag before heading out. The device is designed with a semi-transparent channel that makes it easy to see some of the interior electromechanical components as well as LEDs that indicate what's going on.
The BACtrack Mobile can be blown into directly, or you can use a small mouthpiece for sanitation if you wish to share your device with your drinking buddies. All of those mouthpieces are the same opaque white color, which would make it somewhat difficult to figure out which one needs to be used by what person, so I personally wish they'd make them different colors.
Charging is done through a micro-USB port on the bottom of the device, and when plugged in, a pair of blue LEDs pulse to tell you that charging is underway. Those lights turn to a dim steady blue when the device is fully charged.
Once you're ready to test just how wasted you are, you load the free BACtrack app onto your iPhone and then pair the device via Bluetooth.
Pairing is quick and painless, done from the app rather than requiring a trip to Settings. When you're ready to check your BAC, you press a button in the app, watch a countdown "clock" spin down while the device preps itself, and then blow into the BACtrack. You need to puff for about five seconds, and the app lets you know when you can stop. You'll also hear a small "click" from the device itself.
Within several seconds, the BAC level is displayed in the app. Just how accurate is the BACtrack Mobile? The company notes that the device uses "police grade" Xtend Fuel Cell Sensor Technology to make the measurements, and offers a high level of accuracy and consistency. To ensure that it maintains that professional level of accuracy, BACtrack recommends sending the device in for a recalibration every six to twelve months.