FTC finds 'Shark Tank' connected breathalyzers are inaccurate

Breathometer has to offer refunds as part of a settlement.
Billy Steele
B. Steele|01.24.17

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David Moir/ABC via Getty Images
David Moir/ABC via Getty Images

Accuracy is a big issue with wearables and all sorts of connected devices. Despite marketing claims of "government-lab grade testing," the Federal Trade Commission found that Breathometer's app-connected breathalyzers weren't as accurate as the company promised. Government regulators said the company didn't have the scientific evidence to back the claims it was pitching to consumers who were looking for a way to stay safe after drinking.

In addition to the lack of testing, the FTC explained Breathometer was aware that its second version, the Bluetooth-enabled Breeze, regularly understated the users blood-alcohol level, but failed to notify customers. The company sold two different devices, starting with a $50 namesake model that plugged into your phone's headphone jack. The wireless version followed for $100 and both used an app to display a BAC reading within a few seconds of blowing into either device.

"People relied on the defendant's products to decide whether it was safe to get behind the wheel," said the director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich. "Overstating the accuracy of the devices was deceptive -- and dangerous."

Breathometer received funding for its breathalyzer products by pitching its ideas on the TV show Shark Tank. According to the FTC's complaint, the company's sales of both models totaled $5.1 million, but the original or the Breeze are no longer available for purchase on Breathometer's website. The company is now selling Mint, a device that looks similar to the Breeze that monitors oral health.

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As part of its settlement with the government, Breathometer has to notify customers of the issue and offer full refunds to anyone who purchased one of the products. It's also prohibited from making accuracy claims for a breathalyzer product in the future unless it has sufficient lab testing to back them up.

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