Traditional devices that estimated Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) from the alcohol content in a person’s breath relied on one of three methods.

  • Breathalyzers,
  • Intoxilyzers and
  • Alcosensors

The Breathalyzer system finds alcohol levels by examining a chemical reaction that occurs in the presence of alcohol. Intoxilyzers use infrared spectroscopy to identify and determine alcohol levels whereas alcosensors monitor chemical reactions within a fuel cell to take alcohol content measurements. However, the iBreath uses a different technique. It has a special semi-conductor sensor chip that detects and measures alcohol content. The semiconductor substrate, which is the foundation of the semiconductor, has a very thin membrane of tin dioxide. A small metal heater is connected to this membrane. The heater is one of the elements that require power. The heater warms the membrane to the optimal operating temperature. Ethanol sensors need heat to identify the presence of alcohol with accuracy. They even require isolation since if the sensor loses heat during operation,it may give a false reading.

The tin dioxide membrane absorbs the ethanol molecules when they come in contact with it. The tin dioxide reacts with the alcohol molecules and its electrical resistance is changed. The semiconductor measures the changes and generates an estimate of the user’s BAC. Engineers have determined the relationship between the difference in the electrical resistance of tin dioxide and amount of ethanol in the breath.

Besides the Breathalyzer function, the iBreathalyzer also comes with a FM transmitter. When the iBreath is plugged into an iPhone or iPod, it draws power from the device and can accept data from the songs stored in it. The transmitter transforms the data signal into a low power radio frequency. If you tune a nearby radio to the same frequency, you would be able to hear the music from your phone or MP3 player without connecting devices with a cable.

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