Apps. There are thousands available and we are buying them everyday like it’s a cup a coffee! They have literally become little pieces of artwork for our smart phone that may entertain you, help you find a place to eat or in this case save you life. Charles Michael Yim has set out to tackle one of the country’s biggest problems, drunk driving. This very talented entrepreneur has developed an app that is designed to help the “partygoer” make smarter decisions by blowing into a device that plugs right into your smart phone. To kick things off, hundreds of these devices will be passed out at multiple parties and showcases at this years SXSW. I can’t think of a better place to launch a product like this as hundreds of thousands of music lovers, tech folk and movie makers flood the streets of Austin to network and party like it’s the end of the world! We had the opportunity to pick the mind of Breathometer’s creator to see exactly what his plans are, why he did it and what the future holds for what could be the first app that could save your life.
Substream Magazine: What is your background and how did you get into the business of developing mobile apps and software?
Charles Michael Yim: This is officially my fifth tech start-up but the third that I’ve personally founded. I caught the start-up bug after leaving my first software gig at Fortify Software (a security software company that was acquired by HP). For my first start-up, I teamed up with a senior engineer at Facebook to build a local service provider engine. From there, I leveraged key lessons that I picked up from that experience and created Chatterfly (one of the first and most influential mobile loyalty reward platforms), which I sold to Plum District (Groupon for Moms). I then ran the Mobile division for Plum District and once I finished that project, I moved on to create Breathometer - The World’s First Smartphone Breathalyzer! And the rest… I would say is history! Chatterfly was my first foray diving into mobile app development and understanding the depth and complexities of it. Most people think a mobile app is just an app, but there is so much more that’s happening in the background – it’s actually quite complicated.
SM: What inspired you to develop this app?
CMY: The initial inspiration of Breathometer was based on saving lives. There are 10,000+ deaths and over $37B in financial loss in the US alone each year from drunk driving. I was out one night with my fellow tech friends and after having a few drinks myself and considering my background/ experience in mobile, it dawned on me that there wasn’t a good solution at the time for a breathalyzer device that could leverage the power of the smart phone. Especially, since smart phones are ubiquitous.
SM: Break it down for us. How will Breathometer work?
CMY: Simple. It’s a plug and play solution. Plug the Breathometer into the audio jack of your smart phone, start the app and blow into the device. Once you receive your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) reading, and if you’re not legal to drive, then our app will provide push button options such as a taxi ride, geo- targeted food coupons or even a nearby hotel reservation.
SM: On your website and Facebook page you use the phrase “Be smart. Be safe.” Do you see this app as being a device that will help partygoers make smarter, safer decisions?
CMY: First and foremost, our focus is to promote safety and smart decision-making. We’re all about fun but drinking responsibly is very important as well. The consequences of getting behind the wheel are irreversible and can impact multiple parties which can possibly lead to death. Saving even one life makes everything worth it in the end.
SM: I realize this question may be a little premature, but do you have plans for future updates and development in the next phase for Breatometer? It seems a lot of companies will launch a product as soon as possible in order to see how the public accepts it. If successful, there always seems to be phase two. Is there a phase two for this app?
CMY: Definitely. We’re aiming to be one of the biggest names in the consumer breathalyzer space, then we’re considering expanding to other commercial industries.
SM: We realize this is a business and that you want it to become as profitable as possible, but it also seems that you have the public’s health and safety in mind as well. Do you see yourself developing more “decision conscience” and or “health awareness” apps in the future?
CMY: The public’s health and safety is of the utmost importance to us. And it starts with building a quality product that consumers can consistently rely upon to make smarter decisions regarding their well being and overall health. First, we’re focusing on doing this well then will consider other applications as we learn and grow.
SM: When will Breathometer be available? What will the cost be and what systems will it work with?
CMY: We’re anticipating the commercial version of the consumer unit to be available this summer. We’re handing out Beta units @ SXSW to get people hyped and to collect user feedback which we’ll incorporate into the commercial unit. You can sign up for an exclusive commercial unit on breathometer.com As for price, we’re looking to sell the unit anywhere from $20-$50, depending on the final outcome of our industrial design and development. It will be available for iPhone and Android.
By Jameson Ketchum
Please visit breathometer.com for more information.