HISTORY OF THE BOOZELATOR®
Bar Breathalyzer Vending Machine
In 2007, we thought we came up with the idea of a bill-operated bar breathalyzer vending machine that bar-goers could use for testing themselves prior to leaving the bar. After some quick research, we found that breathalyzer vending machines had been introduced to the market back in the 1980’s, yet they never became mainstream, and this was for several reasons. The main reason we came to find was due to the fact that most used a novelty-grade alcohol sensor, called a ‘semiconductor’ sensor. One of our partners was in law enforcement and was familiar with the law enforcement standard, ‘the platinum fuel cell sensor,’ however, he, nor any of his law enforcement colleagues had heard of the semiconductor sensor for measuring breath alcohol content, which was used as the standard in BAC vending at the time. We thought, ‘well if the product already exists, there is no need to re-invent the wheel, let’s start our own breathalyzer vending machine route with existing products on the market.’ The manufacturer’s of the semiconductor BrAC (Breath Alcohol Content) vending machines claimed to have a high accuracy, so we decided to get one or more of every brand on the market that we could find to see which one we wanted to start our route with. Upon receipt of our sample BrAC vending machines, we were not too impressed with the machine’s appearances, but were still determined to try them out. We placed them in about a dozen bars throughout Lee County, FL. We had no issues placing the breathalyzer machines in the average local bars, however, some of the mid-level to higher-end locations declined based on the aesthetics/gaudy looks of the machines (they were bright in color and had cartoon images on them), as they said was really not the theme they were looking for.
Within about one week, the complaints started rolling in. We immediately received complaints from the bars that allowed cigarette smoking; they said the machines were taking money but not cycling through a breath test. We also received complaints from several other bar owners throughout the next few weeks to months complaining about erratic readings: people who had been drinking all day were blowing low levels, and people that had just started drinking may blow a result that was off the charts. In fact, people that had not consumed any alcohol at all were getting false positives, which means the machine was detecting alcohol on their breath even when they had nothing to drink at all! The alcohol readings were all over the board. After some further research, we learned that the ‘semiconductor’ sensor has never been an approved sensor by law enforcement for measuring BrAC levels, and in fact, the semiconductor sensor requires a very clean air environment to even give close to accurate results; this of course meant that NO bar would be a viable location for a semiconductor alcohol sensor. We found that alcohol fumes (present in every bar), hair spray, cologne, perfume, cigarette smoke and other air pollutants are all detrimental to the semiconductor sensor. There were several other issues with the sensor that we found, and the only advantage a semiconductor had over a fuel cell sensor was that they are cheaper out of pocket, but VERY expensive to maintain; because they fail so quickly you may have to purchase several per year. Other issues that we had with the other brand breathalyzer vending machines we purchased were that some had electronics failures and even suffered physical damage from people punching and/or throwing/spilling drinks on the machine.
From all the issues we tracked with existing machines on the market, we determined that there was in fact a market that had been untapped: a breathalyzer vending machine that uses a high-quality, high accuracy alcohol sensor, the same technology that law enforcement uses worldwide, the Platinum Fuel Cell Sensor. In addition to the enhanced alcohol sensor to ensure high accuracy, we also addressed all the other issues we found with competitor machines: we worked with a renowned designer to ensure it was aesthetically pleasing to be acceptable in even high-end establishments, we used higher quality electronics to ensure it would hold up to commercial use, we decided to utilize a SMART LCD advertising monitor to offer additional income streams and walk the user through the BrAC testing process, we used steel construction for durability, and polycarbonate (the same material used in bullet-proof glass!) on the front of the Boozelator® 3001 to protect the LCD advertising screen and other electronics on the front of the machine from physical damage.
The Boozelator® 3001f (platinum Fuel Cell) finally hit the market for resale in September of 2010, after a couple years in production and about 5 generations, which we field tested in our local market. With it’s fresh and aesthetically pleasing look, SMART LCD Advertising Screen, Platinum Fuel Cell Sensor, Durability, Security, and other upgradeable options, the Boozelator® 3001-F BrAC vending machine forever changed the breathalyzer vending industry, and has become the staple of what other BrAC vending manufacturers have tried to copy, but have never duplicated.