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USB Breathalyzer: What It Is and How It Works

14 March, 2024

A blonde woman blowing into a breathalyzer

USB breathalyzers are modern devices that offer advanced functionalities for efficient alcohol monitoring. This portable device can be connected to a computer or other electronic device via a USB port. This allows the transfer or downloading of data, especially for previous alcohol test readings. Companies that need to keep track of employee alcohol profiles may find it beneficial. The device analyses the provided breath sample, measures the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), and displays the results on the LCD screen.

Alcohol testing is an essential process in many settings. It measures the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream to determine the intoxication level of a person. This can help individuals make informed decisions, especially regarding driving. Portable breathalyzers can deter people from drink driving or engaging in risky activities. In this article, we will delve into the functionality of a breathalyzer, how it works, and alternatives to explore.

What is a USB Breathalyzer?

A USB breathalyzer is a battery-operated alcohol testing equipment that measures the BAC or alcohol levels. It is essentially the same as traditional devices, with the added advantage of being able to connect to a computer through a cable. This allows for data transfer and analysis, making it easier to keep track of alcohol test results.

The device is compact and portable, making it convenient for individuals who need to monitor their alcohol consumption regularly. Additionally, this type is often used in workplace settings because of its data management feature. Most kits include a USB cable and CD software to store BAC results via PC. It is crucial to check the compatibility of the device before purchasing one.

Moreover, some breathalyzers can store and track BAC levels over time, allowing the user to monitor their alcohol consumption habits. Also, most devices use built-in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries as the power supply. Users can connect the charger via the USB port to a power socket.

Benefits of Using a USB Breath Tester

  • Personal monitoring: Individuals use a breath tester to keep track of their BAC levels and prevent them from exceeding the legal limit.
  • Portability: breathalyzers are compact and portable, making them convenient to carry and use anywhere.
  • Numerical reading: Breathalyzers provide quantifiable data on alcohol levels. It takes out the hazards of guessing.
  • Deterrence: Checking the BAC with a breathalyzer can make individuals think twice before driving.
  • Easy reference: A USB breath tester can download the BAC results to an external storage. This can help keep track of the historical records of employees. Employers can quickly look at the files in case of an incident.

A person viewing the BAC results from the smartphone app

How USB Breathalyzers Work

The way a USB breathalyzer works is quite simple. When a person blows into the device, the breath sample enters a chamber containing an alcohol sensor. This sensor can be a semiconductor of the fuel cell. It is important to note that each type provides different levels of accuracy.

Furthermore, the sensor undergoes a chemical reaction when it detects alcohol molecules in the breath. This reaction produces an electrical signal, with the strength of the current proportional to the breath alcohol concentration. Afterwards, the software converts the currents into the corresponding BAC level. The device will display the results on the screen, often showing a numerical BAC reading.

Breathalyzers can detect alcohol within a specific range, such as 0.00-0.40%. However, this would depend on the type of sensor. In addition, most breath testers require periodic recalibration to ensure accuracy. This can be done by sending the unit back to the manufacturer. Typically, the recalibration period would range from three months to one year, depending on the sensor and frequency of use.

Technology Behind the Breathalyzer

Breathalyzers rely on sensor technology to measure the BAC. There are two main types of sensors: semiconductors and fuel cells. The semiconductor sensor works by detecting the changes in electrical resistance when alcohol molecules are present. However, this sensor is sensitive to other kinds of alcohol besides ethanol.

On the other hand, fuel cell sensors measure the chemical reaction of alcohol with oxygen to produce an electrical current. It is more specific to ethyl alcohol and does not react to other substances, such as acetone. This type of sensor is commonly used in professional-grade breathalyzers due to its higher precision.

A person monitoring the BAC levels from a smartwatch

USB Breathalyzer Alternatives

While USB breathalyzers are convenient, their availability may be limited in stores. Individuals needing a BAC-checking device may consider alternatives, such as traditional breath testers or smartphone breathalyzers. A standard device is usually more affordable and easily accessible in stores or online. This would suffice for those who do not need to track their BAC results.

Smartphone breathalyzers are another option for those looking to track their alcohol consumption. These devices connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth and enable BAC readings through the app. Devices like the BACtrack Mobile Pro Gen2 offer this functionality. This allows convenient access to the BAC results, which users can look at at any time without needing a PC.

Another alternative is a wearable breathalyzer, such as the BACtrack Skyn. This device can be worn on the body and continuously monitors alcohol levels through sweat. It provides real-time BAC readings and alerts users when they are approaching or exceeding the legal limit. The device updates a mobile app regularly and shows the changes to the BAC levels in near real-time.

A Closer Look at BACtrack Mobile Pro Gen2

The BACtrack Mobile Pro Gen2 is a popular smartphone breathalyzer with advanced fuel cell sensors. The device connects remotely to a smartphone via Bluetooth and works in conjunction with the BACtrack app. The app not only displays the BAC result but also tracks the alcohol consumption patterns over time.

The BACtrack app also provides advanced features, such as the ZeroLine technology. This function estimates when the BAC will return to zero based on the last intake. Moreover, the app integrates with Apple Health tools to provide a holistic view of health data. Most importantly, it is AS/NZS:3547 compliant, ensuring a reliable and accurate reading.

Conclusion

USB breathalyzers are innovative devices that offer a convenient way to monitor BAC levels. It is a portable breath-testing equipment that can store and download data to a computer via a USB cord. In addition, these types of devices often use a rechargeable battery as a power source. It works by analysing the breath through its sensors to measure the concentrations of alcohol in the bloodstream. This can provide exact readings and aid in making informed decisions.

Individuals may also consider the BACtrack Mobile Pro as a suitable alternative. This breathalyzer offers innovative features, such as a miniature solenoid air pump and breath sample consistency checking to enhance the accuracy of the results. Overall, it is important to understand how breathalyzers work and the sensor types to choose the best option for personal and organisational needs. Whether opting for a USB breathalyzer or exploring alternative devices, it is crucial to prioritise accuracy.

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