AlcoMate Revo Breathalyzer: We Got Drunk and Built a 3D Printer

May 31, 2017

12:50 pm

Americans like to drink. It’s really just a simple fact. That’s according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) study from 2015 that states 70.1 percent of Americans reported that they drank in the past year and 56 percent drank in the past month. To top it off, NIAAA also found that 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month. This also leads to an unfortunate number: out of every 100,000 drivers 1,250 are arrested for a DUI. This doesn’t even count the number of people who don’t get caught.

Now that we’ve served you a little buzz kill and said some responsible things, how about we all kick back a few shots of tequila and build a 3D printer? Ah that’s right, we did that this past weekend, and to document the process TechCo enlisted the help of the portable breathalyzer, AlcoMate Revo. If mistakes are akin to building a 3D printer as strokes are to a golf game, we’d give our overall score a Tiger Woods (thanks for the bad joke Chris). Ok, we know his DUI wasn’t due to alcohol, but our editor is making us slip this in there for the cool factor, which clearly we are due to all that tequila and 3D printing. Anyways, here’s a little timelapse preview showing what progressively got worse as the wine and tequila went down.

Besides using the AlcoMate Revo in this particular very sciencey experiment, we also used it a few times after trips to the local pub. While we do not have a lab available to compare a blood test to the results of the BAC readout, we can reliably say that any device like this should be used as a guide, but probably not for pinpoint accuracy. However, this particular device has been approved through various official testing outlets.

Features/Specs

Between hip office environments with kegs on tap, the sheer amount of alcohol consumed in the US, and it being prime BBQ and beer season, now may be an ideal time to invest in a resource to protect the ones you care about. Plus, a breathalyzer is a lot cheaper than a DUI ticket or any other terrible connected event.

Moderately priced, the AlcoMate Revo also won’t require an annual send off back to the factory for the sensor to be adjusted either. Using their PRISM technology or pre-calibrated replaceable intelligent sensor modules, each year or after 1000 uses you simply open the back cover, pop in a new modular sensor, and the device should be back in action. In the long run this is likely easier to maintain versus sending the unit off for maintenance. As far as BAC monitoring goes, the Revo will detect from 0.000% (sober) to 0.400% (either in a coma or possibly dead). Their BAC detection has also been tested and approved by the DOT, FDA, NHTSA and US Coast Guard.

Within the case you also receive five one-way flow mouth pieces, and you can get a pack of 100 for about $40 on their site or Amazon. Due to this particular design it’s also more difficult for the device to account for previous blows; however, swapping out mouth pieces are the best case scenario if you want a more accurate BAC reading. Revo is also incredibly small, in fact smaller than the iPhone Plus (4.0 x 2.0 x 0.6 in) and it weighs only one ounce. This way you can discretely carry it around with you, that is until you whip it out at the bar and start blowing into it.

On the software side there is a bit of a cool down period between blows, but this also ensures a more accurate read. When we reviewed the DrinkMate, they had excessively long wait periods between blows due to the device not having swappable mouthpieces and using smaller components. By comparison, the minute or so cooldown on the Revo is not a problem.

Overall the AlcoMate Revo does what it’s designed to do: detect an approximate BAC, and in turn should prevent you from making poor choices. Well, at the very least it should indicate when you should take Lyft, but the other actions you take are usually covered by regret the next morning.

AlcoMate Revo case, 3D Printer experiment

What’s in the box?!
  • Fuel-Cell PRISM Sensor (pre-installed)
  • 5 one-way flow mouthpieces
  • 2 AAA Batteries
  • Carrying Pouch with Carabiner
  • Hard Clamshell Carrying Case

Don’t Drink and Build a 3D Printer

Because we do not have a lab and therefore can’t test the AlcoMate Revo for accuracy, we did the next best thing, got drunk-ish. As a slight caveat here, I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinking, mostly due to running and triathlon training, so the BAC readout received probably affected me more than the norm. Relevant stats: weight: 163, height 5’10, not a lot of body fat. For this particular science project I ingested two small glasses of wine and about two or three shots of tequila. Here’s how it went:

8pm

Revo blow one came up as 0.000% for a baseline.

Directly after consuming wine and blowing on the Revo it showed a 0.4.

After giving it about 2-3 minutes and no water it settled down to .025%.

8:30pm-ish

Second small glass of wine down, and after a few minutes it was up to .076%.

In the state of South Carolina this is just below the legal limit before getting a DUI.

When a person gets between 0.07-0.09% BAC, balance, speed, vision, reaction time, and hearing becomes slightly impaired. Also, judgement and self-control are reduced, which is right about the time when I got lazy and pulled out the power drill instead of screwing in the base plate by hand. I also had to reverse back a few steps due to parts being on backwards, oops.

9pm-ish

Tequila time! Right after it was consumed the Revo read out .249%.

Obviously this was due to the immediacy of the readout, or at this point I’d likely be prone to vomiting and some other fun health issues.

After giving it a minute or two the Revo then read .111%

This is right between the sweet spot of .10-.125% BAC where motor coordination becomes and judgement starts to go out the window. At this point I was getting tired of dropping the tiny M3 nuts that were required to hold screws in place and getting pretty lazy.

After finishing the tequila the Revo detected a .115% BAC, which was getting too close to sloppy drunk for me.

10:30pm

Without water and about an hour between drinks, the BAC was already back down to .059%. Another 15 minutes later it was down to .058%.

So there you have it. Mapping up my BAC to Notre Dame’s handy effect chart was similar in nature to the effects I was feeling while building the 3D printer. In the end I got too lazy to actually finish tinkering with it anymore that evening, and finished it in the morning. After flipping the switch and trying a test run… it absolutely did not work properly. Moral of the story, don’t drink and build a 3D printer. In other news, once I go back and correct my drunken mistakes we’ll also have a review on the Anet A8, assuming it ends up working.

Pros and Cons

Highs
  • Small and portable
  • Doesn’t require factory calibration
Lows
  • None present

Overall Thoughts

Should you buy the AlcoMate Revo? Well, if you want to test how sloppy drunk you are while building a 3D printer, maybe not so much. However, if you are in a corporate environment with accessible drinks, a concerned parent, or even worried about your own legality to drink, the Revo will likely help get you out of the woods (see what we did there). While we can’t attest to the device’s accuracy, we did find the BAC results to map up to known effects, and therefore can recommend it as a guiding product.

Price: $220

Where to buy: AlcoMate, Amazon

Read more gadgets and gear reviews at Tech.Co

Editors Note: If you are going to drink, please don’t drink and drive. Building 3D printers is at your own risk.

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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