Apple’s next great thing may be kicking dangerous drivers out


When it comes to drinking, your iPhone can be your new best friend — and perhaps your safest one.

(Image credit: Apple)

If you don’t want to get locked out of your automobile, Apple may have the solution for you.

According to Patently, there is a new patent. According to Apple’s latest patent filing, the company is working on integrating a breathalyser into its Auto Keys feature (which utilises NFC to transform your iPhone or Watch into a digital car key).


If the phone, watch, or other linked item detects that the user has consumed too much alcohol, the system would lock them out of their automobile and prevent them from driving.

In early 2021, Apple filed a patent for a “database information” that would “contain information pertaining to human breath characteristics such as typical ammonia levels, acceptable alcohol levels for driving, etc. (e.g., so a user can compare infrared spectra obtained when the target object of interest is that user’s breath and/or the user’s mouth to human breath data from the database).”

In rare cases, even a breathalyser test may not be sufficient to satisfy the app. Apps might ask users for mental challenges, such as a dexterity job or a mathematics issue, to ensure they are suitable for driving. In such case, it’s time to brush up on your mental math.


Priority is given to ensuring the well-being

Apple isn’t the only company mulling about the idea of making the iPhone a breathalyser. The BACtrack and AlcoDigital NEO are two third-party choices that take use of the iPhone’s processing capability to provide quick booze-level readings directly on your phone. They have been available for a while.

For the most part, these measures are taken using external devices that aren’t much larger than a typical smartphone, but they do come with a price tag.


It is yet unclear how the suggested breathalyser capability would be miniaturised for a smartphone, but Apple’s prior patents hint that either the iPhone or an external device might be utilised.

Even admitting the risk of drunk driving is a good thing as Apple moves more into the automobile industry. Drink-driving-related deaths occur at a rate of around 28 per day in the United States, and the number of non-fatal crashes is several times greater. The incidence of drink-driving-related fatalities in the United States has decreased dramatically since the 1970s, but an average of 230 deaths are still recorded each year.

For this feature to succeed, drivers must be aware that failing a breathalyser test might result in their vehicles being impounded until they sober up. This function relies on driver knowledge. That possibility alone may be enough to deter careless drivers from ever considering the idea in the first place.


As always, a patent is only a means of exploring and protecting an idea, not a declaration of intent to use that concept. However, two patents in a short period of time show that Apple is treating this issue seriously.

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