French startup Olythe has developed a novel infrared breath analysis technology. Rather than analyzing ambient air around the mouth, OCIEngine detects volatile organic compounds (VOC) in exhaled air with high accuracy. Currently, the tool measures alcohol concentration in exhaled air and alcohol residue inside the mouth. A consumer breath analysis device equipped with OCIEngine could let individuals monitor their own alcohol levels to avoid the dangers of intoxicated driving.

According to Olythe, OCIEngine has almost zero margin of error. The company plans to expand the tool’s measuring capabilities to include acetone and carbon dioxide compounds before the end of 2021 in hopes of expanding into the health market.

Research has identified more than 1,000 VOCs contained in human breath. Monitoring fluctuations in breath VOCs helps in diagnosing and monitoring some types of cancer and inflammatory and infectious diseases. VOCs also change when an individual becomes intoxicated.

OCIEngine uses infrared spectroscopy technology based on the Beer-Lambert law, which explains that the reduction of intensity in light as it passes through a substance relates to the physical properties of that substance. When exhaled air enters the device, it crosses an infrared light beam inside of a chamber. The technology measures how molecules in the chamber absorb the light to identify specific VOCs.

Olythe’s breath analyzer OCIGO uses OCIEngine for immediate breath alcohol measurements. OCIGO also estimates the amount of time an intoxicated person needs to sober up enough to drive legally. It also estimates the wait time until blood alcohol levels return to zero. The connected device can access state and local laws regarding intoxication.

OCIGO is available in several countries, including the United States. Olythe has also announced that global manufacturers can integrate OCIEngine technology into their own health tech products.