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According to researchers, thousands of Americans die each year from drunk driving accidents. These accidents would go down if people decided to carry a breathalyser, which would help them decide if they are too intoxicated to drive themselves. However, not many people want to bring a breathalyser with them wherever they go. For this reason, scientists from the Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers at the Laval University in Canada have added a breathalyser to a smartphone.

Other scientists have tried incorporating a breathalyser into a smartphone 

The idea to integrate a breathalyser into a smartphone is not a new one. However, these plans have not been successful. The technology used to make a breathalyser is not sufficient to be added to a phone. The resultant devices are bulky, difficult to produce, costly and have chemical sensors continuously needing to be replaced.

The researchers from Canada decided to take a different approach. Instead of incorporating the present technology for a breathalyser into a phone, they decided to add components of the device. The scientists developed an optical breathalyser that they incorporated into a phone screen.

How the new breathalyser works

When a screen is fogged, thousands of microdroplets collect on the surface. These microdroplets evaporate faster than water when they are made of alcohol.

Using this logic, scientists needed to find a way to measure the evaporation rate. They also had to take the anti-scratch layer used by companies such as Gorilla to protect smart gadgets into consideration. The anti-scratch layer is heavier and thicker than the rest of the glass, forming a planar wavelength.

The researchers made a prototype that was powered by the phone’s battery. It came with an app that would guide the user on how to use the breathalyser. They also needed to add a photodiode to the phone.

Though the technology was effective in a controlled environment, in the real world it would be affected by differences in the environment. For example, water microdroplets would evaporate faster in a humid or warm climate. The researchers plan to consider these factors as they continue to test the breathalyser to make it suitable for real-world use.