Hitachi has developed a prototype system for a new breath-alcohol detection device with facial recognition capabilities to ensure that a car’s driver is the one being tested for alcohol consumption.

The compact breath analyser needs to be attached to a smartphone and is operated using an application on the phone. The device then leverages the phone’s built-in camera to scan the user’s face, while also scanning the person’s breath for traces of alcohol. The user’s face is then matched to the breath sample.

After the initial facial recognition, the user needs to place the smartphone into a special holster in the car, with the camera facing the driver. Then, another round of facial recognition will commence to ensure that the driver’s face matches that of the person who provided the breath sample.

The process, while elaborate, is a way to leverage smart devices to prevent drunken driving. Hitachi said it initially developed a prototype portable breath analyser system in March 2016, but initial field tests revealed that there is a possibility that a substitute could take the test in place of the actual driver.

Application software was developed to transmit the breath-based alcohol test results from the detection devices to smartphones and aggregate the data. Safety administrators can download the log data related to aggregated time of test, presence or absence of alcohol, mobile terminal ID, etc. to a smartphone or PC, thus raising management efficiency and enabling remote management of alcohol inspection, according to the company.

Hitachi_breath-analyser 01 (cr) Figure 1: Hitachi developed a function to prevent the use of substitutes as well as enabling central management of alcohol test data, etc. (Source: Hitachi)

Hitachi will begin a field test in August 2017 with employees at a subsidiary with a goal of commercialising the portable breath analyser system.