You may or may not be familiar with Apple’s Car Key feature that has been around since 2020. The app basically turns smartphones and Apple watches into replacement keys for specific cars from BMW. Well, early in 2021 an Apple patent revealed the company’s desire to take the app even further by adding a feature that turns iPhones and Apple Watches into breath-testing instruments in an effort to deter drinking and driving.
Testing Breath Alcohol Levels
Apple’s patent application doesn’t suggest that the company will necessarily build a breathalyzer into the iPhone or Apple Watch. Instead, the patent describes interfacing with a third-party breathalyzer accessory. The application states that “The data may contain information pertaining to human breath characteristics such as typical ammonia levels and acceptable alcohol levels for driving.” So, the way it would potentially work is that you would be prompted to breath into your phone or a phone attachment. The app would then assess your breath alcohol concentration compared to an established baseline and/or a determined permissible level. Then, depending on the result, the app would either unlock your car or not.
The patent application doesn’t just cover breathalyzers. The Car Keys app may go further by requiring you to complete a series of tests that include basic arithmetic, dexterity puzzles, and reaction time games. Unsuccessful attempts at completing these tasks would either lock you out of your vehicle or prevent your vehicle from starting.
Reality or Wishful Thinking?
As of now, there has been no official announcement from Apple, so there’s no certainty as to when, or even if, these patents will come to reality. Still, just seeing the potential for this type of innovative technology is definitely interesting, to say the least.