Breathalyser phone stops drinkers making embarrassing calls
9 July 2006
THE first mobile phone aimed at drinkers is about to go on sale in Britain, complete with a breathalyser that tests users’ fitness to drive and a “sobriety lock-out” to stop drunken late-night phone calls.
The Samsung LP4100 is targeted at hard-living, hard-drinking young people, promising to help them avoid drink-driving and drunk dialling.
If the user has exceeded the drink-drive limit when blowing into the phone, it gives a warning and displays an animation of a car swerving on a road and crashing into traffic cones, a hint that they should take a taxi.
The phone can also be programmed to block selected numbers in the address book such as former girlfriends or boyfriends, bosses, parents and kebab houses.
Samsung believes that the phone, which has a shape similar to a sports car, will find a market among young clubbers, stopping their slurred speech before they leave a regrettable voicemail message, let alone try to climb behind the wheel.
Samsung is based in South Korea, where high-tech gadgets are close to a national obsession. The company has already produced a phone that can give a read-out of the user’s levels of body fat, and another with a motion sensor that can improve golf swings.
The breathalyser device is proving one of its biggest hits with about 200,000 of them sold in South Korea. It now believes there are also large markets in Europe and America, even though the basic cost of the phone is more than £200.
Britain is seen as one of Samsung’s largest potential markets because of the popularity of binge drinking and gadget-packed mobile phones with young people. About 85% of Britons have a mobile.
A recent survey commissioned by Nokia, the phone maker, suggested that people liked having many devices fitted into their mobiles. About 44% already use their phone as their main camera and about a third regularly browse the internet on their phone.
Mobiles are also taking over from more mundane devices, with 72% of the 5,000 people questioned using their phone as an alarm clock and 73% using it as a watch.
Samsung has equipped its new phone with an array of gadgets, including a remote control for televisions, DVD players and karaoke machines.
Some might question the judgment of the people who need to use such a phone. A Korean student who bought the device said recently: “You breathe into the phone and it’ll let you know how intoxicated you are. It sounds simple but I was testing one after drinking a bottle of Jack Daniel’s (whiskey) when I vomited all over the phone.”
Before going on sale in Britain, the phone would be adjusted so that it was triggered by the legal limit for drink-driving in this country, which is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, roughly equivalent to two pints of beer for a man.