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November 17, 2015

Get Your Party On, But Drive Safer with the Floome Portable Breathalyzer

Dont_drink_and_drive-floome-portable_breathalyzer-iStock_000049768998_SmallIt's Friday evening and you've been enjoying Mom's Night Out with a few cocktails. Whether you're celebrating at your friend's kitchen table or in a restaurant or pub, when it's time to head home, how will you know for sure that you're safe to drive?

Enter Floome, a high-precision smartphone-based portable breathalyzer that's inexpensive and convenient to use. Compact and light with a sleek Italian design, Floome utilizes the same sensor as found in breathalyzers used by law enforcement officers. This little device can easily be carried in your purse to measure your blood alcohol level and deliver precise estimates directly to your smartphone, no matter where you are.

Floome_portable_breathalyzerHow does it work? Just plug the Floome portable breathalyzer into your Apple, Android, or Windows smartphone via a standard audio jack, open the mouthpiece, and blow.

Its patented technology uses a special vortex whistle matched with a fuel cell ethanol sensor that works like a flow meter to measure the alcohol volume of the breath as it passes across the sensor. No batteries are required.

The Floome app on your phone will then return a color-coded estimated reading of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC): Green means you're probably good to go*, but if your app test result displays a red screen, this means your alcohol level is definitely over the legal limit applicable in the country or state you are in. Wait for the duration of the suggested recovery time provided by the application and then repeat the test.

Dont_drink_and_drive-floome-portable_breathalyzer-taxiIf you’re not safe to drive and need a ride, the Floome app will help you find and call a taxi; or, if you plan ahead and create a list of favorite friends, you can call them via the app or send them a message with your location. (*The application helps you compare your BAC levels with the limits set by the law, but remember this by no means replaces your own good judgement on your ability to operate any sort of vehicle. You could be below the legal limit and still be impaired enough to drive unsafely. It’s only you, not your Floome, who decides whether to drive or not, so be responsible: don’t drink and drive.)

Entering your weight, height, gender, and age into the Floome app helps it calculate how long it should take your body to lower your BAC, and it will tell you when you should retest to fall within legal limits. In addition, the application can learn your metabolic rate to give you more personalized results over time. Watching your weight or alcohol intake? The app's diary also helps you keep track of your alcohol consumption, and even gives more detailed information such as the calories absorbed.

Dont_drink_and_drive-floome-portable_breathalyzer-iStock_000056466510_SmallIf you're one of those who likes to share the fun, you can publish the test results on your social networks and share your experiences with friends along with a selfie to let them know you are okay, or if you might need a ride. (Not that I'd recommend posting drunk selfies to social media. That could come back to haunt you....)

Their marketing department recently sent me a Floome portable breathalyzer to test, and I've enjoyed many opportunities to use the device to measure my own BAC levels; it's been a fun and responsible companion during this evaluation period. Every time I've brought it out for a test, it has inspired conversations about the device and the importance of not drinking and driving.

Dont_drink_and_drive-floome-portable_breathalyzer-20150830-2133At a private, open-bar event at 23Hoyt in Portland, Oregon, I used the opportunity to really indulge, testing my BAC level at the end of the evening. Because I knew I would be provided transportation when it was time to go home and wasn't worried about having to drive, I had six specialty martinis over a period of about three hours; when I showed my Floome reading of 0.143 to the bartender, he was very impressed by the device. (I was quite impressed with his bartending skills, but that's a different story...) I took another reading a couple of hours later that showed my BAC had dropped to .104, and then went to sleep for the night.

I've used the Floome portable breathalyzer device many times to test my BAC after a few drinks at home or in restaurants. There is a fine art to getting a good blow, and have been frustrated at times by bad readings. Several times, messages have indicated such errors as "blow with less intensity." One time it said "move to a quiet place," though I've been told this was a very rare occurrance. According to CEO Fabio Penzo, "If the ambient sound level is very high, it could result in a failed test in the app, but it's rare and uncommon. We tested in clubs, in a car with max volumes, and also in a lab at the university." Floome provides a helpful training video with instructions on proper blowing technique here at YouTube.

Dont_drink_and_drive-floome-portable_breathalyzer-20151017-2156I've also shared my Floome device with friends; by having them download the app to their phone and entering their own personalized data, they were able to obtain their own readings. You'd be surprised how different women can show different results based on their body size and age, even after consuming the same amount of alcohol in a similar timeframe. In one circumstance, I had a couple drinks at my home with a girlfriend, and her reading showed a 0.063 while mine showed a 0.100.

Keep in mind that I was not able to compare these results against tests from an actual law enforcement breathalyzer, so I cannot vouch for their complete accuracy. I can only say that any insight to one's alcohol level that will help prevent them from drinking and driving is a good thing, especially when a person might be so impaired that it could cause them to be reckless in consideration of their ability to drive safely.

All 50 states have now set 0.08 percent BAC as the legal limit for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI), but specific laws and penalties vary substantially from state to state. Some states even impose additional fines and penalties when BAC levels reach certain levels above the national limit. For commercial drivers, a BAC of 0.04 percent can result in a DUI or DWI conviction nationwide. Having a personalized portable breathalyzer can be a great way to be aware of your alcohol levels to avoid drunk driving. If you're somebody who travels internationally, Floome even works in conjunction with the GPS in your phone to triangulate your location, and will let you know if you are within the legal limits of any country.

Penzo says the market is ripe for a high-performance portable breathalyzer, and gives two reasons why Floome upstages its competition: its patent-pending technology and its design. "The cheap ones aren’t accurate and the accurate ones are very expensive and extremely ugly," he explains, adding that the goal of the project "was to combine accuracy, affordability, and great looks."

At $99, the Floome certainly is an inexpensive alternative to the many thousands of dollars that a DUI could wind up costing. I'd even consider it a responsible holiday gift for those I love. I am planning to get another device to give to my 22-year-old son for Christmas, because, as a young adult with an active social life, I think he really could use a portable breathalyzer. (But I don't want to give him mine!) 

Floome is making it easier for AskPatty readers to purchase a device by offering a promotional discount code that will give buyers a 10 percent discount as well as free shipping in the US and Canada. Simply enter  "usa2015floome" at checkout, to receive your special offer.






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