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Photo by LG Electronics 
by Colleen Fraser

LG is trying to save the faces of drinkers everywhere.The electronics company has developed a Sports Car-Design Phone that has a sensor built in for estimating blood alcohol content from a breathe sample. 

 According to LG’s website, the unit – which was released in 2005 – sold over 20,000 phones within four months in Korea.

So why would anyone want a breathalyzer in a cellphone?

The phone gives you the ability to program in certain numbers that it won’t allow you to dial or text unless you pass the sobriety test. Although it works as an ‘anti-speed dial,’ all other numbers are still usable. The phone’s breathalyzer is sensitive enough to judge when you shouldn’t be calling your boss, your ex or your mother-in-law, but it may not save you from a DUI.

“It wouldn’t have the same kind of device as an Intoxilyzer, which is what we use to determine blood alcohol level. So it wouldn’t be as accurate as that,” said Elizabeth Popowich, spokesperson for the Regina police.

Popowich also said a device like this could cause even more guesswork when someone tries to decide what a safe level of alcohol consumption would be.

While the legal limit is .08, a person can still receive an impaired driving charge based on driving behaviour. The phone could mislead someone into thinking they were able to drive, she said.

Regardless of hype surrounding this new gadget, the uninhibited will have to wait.Meghan Neufeld of High Road Communications, who does the marketing research for LG in Canada, said that the phone probably won’t be coming to North America any time soon.

Really Smart Phones

African aid workers now have the ability to text information on the communities they are trying to help, instead of filling out piles of paperwork. Workers collect data, such as the height and weight of the children and texts the information to a computer that stores national nutritional and food-security statistics. The quick collection and availability of data can help aid agencies intervene if the statistics show a crisis is unfolding. The RapidSMS system, as it is called, is on a four-month trial run that began in January 2009 in three districts of Malawi's Central Province.
-Mail and Guardian Online

Trying to talk and drive? A product developed by WQN Inc. uses GPS technology that can determine how fast a person is traveling. Also, the DriveAssistT system disables phones at driving speeds, sending a text message to the caller saying the person they are trying to reach is driving. Both services still have flaws, such as it may kick in for non-driving cell phone users who don’t need it, such as car passengers.   

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