The reality of drink driving is something we are all fully aware off, with us being regularly reminded about through shock campaigns and marketing, and rightly so. So would our focus group consider a mobile breathalyser system?
It is a reasonably safe assumption to make that if not all, then certainly most drivers, have at one stage or another wondered whether or not they are clear to drive the following morning, having sampled the local homebrew the night before.
The Alcosense Pro is a mobile breathalyser which is available on the market for £149.99 and is designed to appeal to people who want the reassurance that they are safe to drive, and are willing to pay a little more for a more precise reading, and surely must be a consideration for any fleet manager or drivers who rely on their vehicles for their livelihood.
So what’s in the box?
- An Instruction booklet
- The Alcosense Pro
- Three AAA batteries
- Five blow tubes
- A USB to Micro USB adapter
How big is it?
- Length = 10.6 CM
- Width = 5.4 CM
- Depth = 2.7 CM
The device is small enough to fit into any pocket or laptop back, however we would recommend somewhere in the vehicle such as the glove box.
As one of the winners of the 2016 Red Dot Award for Product Design. The Pro is sleek and modern looking, with a simplistic design. The device itself feels solid and no heavier than a modern day smart phone, in the hand and the plastics used are rigid, and we found that even with the front cover in an open position there was minimal flex. Our one concern for the device would be to screen protector to be included in the box to protect the glossy colour screen, although Alcosense do offer a universal cover case for an additional £9.99.
How easy is it to set up?
We really weren’t sure what to expect here, so having a quick read of the start-up manual and having inserted the batteries, setting the device up was pleasingly simple. Using the three buttons on the device to navigate the options on the screen, selecting the time, date, current country and our preferred units for displaying results, we were ready to go.
How easy is it to use?
Once set-up the device itself is actually quite quick to use.
Slide up the front of the device, insert the blow tube into the back lit aperture, wait for the system to run through its circa 17 second notifications, which when finished you are greeted with the instruction to “blow into the tube steadily and keep the top bar in the middle”.
This is where the BlowCoach™ really comes into its own, blow too hard, too soft or not long enough, the Pro tells you clearly where you have gone wrong, and with the screen displaying the correct pressure and volume of breath needed during testing, it couldn’t be made much simpler.
Having blown into the device, the results are displayed within a matter of seconds, and this is typically in keeping with the rest of the device. In total from pressing the on button to receiving the results of a test took us 25.2 seconds – Which is nothing compared to the consequences of not testing at all.
Navigating the menu to retrieve one of the 128 stored previous results, setting up alarms for re-tests or changing preferred settings is equally as quick with a menu system that can be navigated easily compared to modern day smart phones.
Focus Group Test
To get a fair review of the product, we didn’t just get one person to give us their thoughts on whether the Pro was worth your hard earned money. As a result, we set up a small focus group to get their thoughts on:
- The idea of the system
- Whether they would use one
- Their thoughts on the device and how easy it was to use.
Surprisingly finding a panel of willing participants within public transport / taxi distance is not difficult when you promise to ply them with free beer and wine!
Our panel consists of four adults:
- Two cover considerable mileage for their work on a daily basis
- One is not particularly tech savvy
- One member whom whilst driving regularly, typically covers reasonably local commutes
What do the they think of the concept?
All of the of members of the group agreed that the idea of a breathalyser they could use, at will was a good one. Although they did question how enforceable the idea was for companies. However, with the time and date stamping on readings this would be easily recordable for a manger whom was concerned by their company driver’s compliance with the law.
So would the they use a mobile breathalyser, if they had one available?
The answer to this was a resounding yes, with one of the longer distance drivers admitting to always being conscious of their alcohol levels the following morning, and would certainly consider purchasing a device for their own purposes. Clearly the shock marketing for drink driving has had an impact on the general perception of the issue, yet surprisingly none of the panel own a device. So perhaps greater education on the simplicity of these devices needs to be considered?
What did they think of the Alcosense Pro, and how easy did they find it to use?
As a device the general consensus was that the device was non-intrusive, modern looking and small enough to be kept in a suitable place at all times. Whilst rigid enough to not worry in the same way as you do about the typical technology we all carry around with us on a daily basis.
When it came to using the device the group were given no instruction at all, more just handed the device and a blow tube and asked to give the system a try. Not surprisingly the Pro performed excellently here, with the onscreen directions being clear and easy to follow. Naturally we anticipated there to be some issues when it came to the different group member’s perception of how hard to blow during the test phase, but again the BlowCoach™ had this covered without us needing to intervene.
All of the members agreed that the results were clear and easy to understand, and the functionality of a guide/estimate to when alcohol had left their system entirely was a well received. Although, one small element of feedback was that the difference in coloured backgrounds between the green and yellow screens could be difficult for colour blind users to benefit from. The red “Do Not Drive” screen includes a vehicle with a cross going along the to indicate the results, and we would suggest something similar for the yellow alcohol level.
For any person who drives frequently, and especially for those whose livelihood depends on it, the Alcosense Pro is a perfect solution to allow them to be confident in knowing the alcohol level in their system, whether this be following a drink or the morning after. And whilst the price for the device may seem of putting to some personal users, it is comparable to its competitors.
For Companies / Fleet Managers
Having the function to record 128 tests, which are time and date stamped, will certainly allow a clear understanding as to which drivers if any are in breach of the law, therefore allowing an opportunity to prevent an incident before it happens. But it is important to remember that due to the nature of the device, there are certain elements which could cause issue when it came to enforcement of the testing. Firstly, it is a voluntary action to complete a test, and there is no way of confirming which person has conducted it. Secondly as the device acts as an advisory system, it does not stop a vehicle from still being driven having completed a failed test, although a more complete solution is available within the Alcosense range.
For any person looking for a personal breathalyser, whether it be for personal or for business would do well to consider the Alcosense Pro within their list of options. With its modern, rigid design and simplicity at the heart of its user interface, the Alcosense Pro provides a clear understanding of how much alcohol is in your system, and how long it will take before you can expect it to leave. From a corporate perspective, we think that the Alcosense does drop half a star, due to the inability of managers being able to identify test as they are completed, and therefore being able to take action on failed results sooner.
Drive Time Score 4.5 out of 5
For any readers wishing to look at the device in more detail, Alcosense’s website can be found here