Every hour, a person dies in a drunk driving accident in the US. DUIs are completely preventable and are caused by reckless behavior on the part of the driver. Many solutions to combat drunk driving have come up in the past; however, most of these pertain to the individual driver without taking into account that the role that others can play in preventing drunk driving accidents.

What it does

Our prototype involves a breathalyzer with an OLED display that informs the user of their blood alcohol content. A strip of RGB LED light alerts others to the level of inebriation of the user. This way others can play a role in stopping drunk driving accidents.

How we built it

Our journey to completing the breath-a-lit started by first defining the problem and user base. Together, we brainstormed reasons as to why people, although fully aware of the risks, continue to drive drunk. The results of our brainstorming revealed that the two main motivators to someone driving drunk were overconfidence (which accounted for underestimation of blood alcohol content), as well as peer pressure from others. This led us to define our minimum value product as a device that could read one's blood alcohol content and display not only to the user, but also others around them. This led us to our final product, a breathalyzer connected to an Arduino, which would also interface with the OLED display and the LED strip.

Challenges we ran into

Relative chunkiness of the alarm board and housing the components together. In addition, the legal BAC limit in the United States is 0.08; however, upon further dimensional analysis, we discovered that the breathalyzer reads a maximum of 0.053. This allows us to make our project more universal as the BAC limits in many other countries is around 0.02.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our team consists of Mechanical Engineers and a Bio-Sciences Engineer. Despite the large learning curve to get started on Arduino, and limited electrical engineering experience, we were amazed by our progress in the last 36 hours. We look forward to pursuing our knowledge in the field of using open source technologies and plan on exploring the world of internet connected devices next.

What we learned

We learned a LOT of technical skills. Starting from Blinky on the Arduino at the beginning of the hackathon and making our way to interfacing with an OLED screen, breathalyzer sensor, and RGB LED strip within 36 hours allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the challenges involved with rapid prototyping as well as circuit design and construction.

In addition, we did a lot of need finding, user based design, and organizational brainstorming activities recommended to us by mentors, recruiters, and seminars to truly maximize our time.

What's next for breath-a-lit

Breath a Lit gave us a very unbiased clear view of some of the reasons why drunk driving still exists. From overconfidence of the user, to peer pressure, to inability to judge ones own alcohol intake, we believe we defined a pretty good MVP (minimal viable product) in a 36 hour time. We can see this idea growing very rapidly if it was tethered to a smart phone or had the ability to connect to the cloud. In addition, we truly believe there is true value behind embedding an alcohol sensor in smart watches, fitness devices, and wearable tech of the future.

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