Big Brother is watching you drink.
Hitachi is moving closer to having a functioning breathalyzer system that not only checks your breath, but looks you in the eye to make sure you are who you claim to be. Or rather, it looks at your entire face to determine your identity. It works in conjunction with a portable breathalyzer unit developed by Hitachi last March, and functions via smartphone.
The setup is still in a prototype phase. Hitachi has been working to increase the reliability of the system while also reducing its size. Continual development on the application software is also ongoing, but Hitachi hopes to have more widespread use of the breath/recognition device starting in August, with the ultimate goal of commercializing the system in the hopes of reducing alcohol-related accidents.
There’s just one problem – this doesn’t prevent anyone from actually driving a car.
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In its current form, the alcohol detection device simply monitors subjects and visually confirms the identity of the user taking the breath test. That data is then simply sent to whomever overlord is watching. Presumably, this device is focused more on the corporate environment – making sure employees aren’t sampling a bit of Johnnie Walker on the clock. It can also be used to monitor employees using company cars to ensure they aren’t sauced up behind the wheel after a business dinner. Should a breath test come back positive, or a facial recognition not match for any reason, a notificaion is sent and punishment is dealt out accordingly.
While there’s no mention of moving this device to car-based breathalyzer systems already in use, it’s certainly in the realm of possibilities. Personally, we’re all for anything that keeps drunk people out of a car, but still, having devices on phones that recognize people and force them to make random breath checks for work is a little too big brother for us. How do you feel about this technology?
Field testing new breath-alcohol detection device equipped with facial recognition
Contributing to the safety of corporate vehicle drivers by enabling central management of alcohol test data through smartphones
Tokyo, June 12, 2017 --- Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501, Hitachi) today announced the development of a prototype system for a new breath-alcohol detection device equipped with facial recognition, and verification field tests with Hitachi Capital Auto Lease Co., Ltd. (Hitachi Capital Auto Lease). After developing a prototype portable breath-based alcohol detection device in March 2016(1), Hitachi has been pursuing research to increase the reliability of the sensor, reduce its size, and develop application software. In March 2017, a field test was launched with a prototype equipped with a function to collect and manage drivers’ alcohol test data on smartphones. From August 2017, a new detection device which recognizes whether or not the person who underwent the alcohol test is the same person as the driver is expected to be introduced to prevent abuse by substitution (figure). Through the field tests involving employees at three sales offices of Hitachi Capital Auto Lease, the functionality and performance of the device will be verified as well clarifying other potential issues to enhance the reliability and usability in preparing for commercialization.
In March 2016, Hitachi and Honda R&D Co., Ltd. developed a prototype portable breath-based alcohol detection device with the aim of eliminating alcohol-related accidents. While this prototype provided the convenience of allowing the test to be taken anywhere, and prevented tampering by being able to distinguish whether or not the sample submitted was human breath, issues were identified such as the possibility of abuse by a substitute taking the test in place of the actual driver, and the need to be able to centrally manage test data from each driver in fleet situations.
To address these issues, Hitachi developed a function to prevent the use of substitutes as well as enabling central management of alcohol test data, etc., and is carrying out field tests in collaboration with Hitachi Capital Auto Lease to verify the practicality of the new breath-alcohol detection device. Features of the functions developed are as follows:
1. Facial recognition to prevent substitution
The size of the new prototype detection device was reduced to about one-third that of the previous prototype by eliminating the battery and related circuits, while maintaining the same accuracy for alcohol detection. This made it possible to attach the prototype to a smartphone. Application software developed linked the two, enabling facial recognition technology to be employed.
Users attach the detection device to their smartphones, and then initiate the software to take the alcohol breath test during which time a facial image is simultaneously captured. After taking the test, the smartphone is placed in a holder located in front of the driver’s seat and another photograph of the driver is captured. The image of the person who took the test is then matched with that of the driver to confirm identity thus preventing substitutes from taking the alcohol breath tests.
2. Management of breath-based alcohol test data
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.Through the field tests, Hitachi and Hitachi Capital Auto Lease are working to enhance the reliability and usability of the breath-alcohol detection system, with the aim of commercialization.