Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two BAC Calculators for the iPhone

Notice: The applications reviewed below are for entertainment purposes only. I do not condone irresponsible drinking, nor do I suggest using these tools to determine your ability to drive, or even to be socially acceptable.

I've been looking at a few of the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) calculators I found in the iPhone App Store. There are half a dozen or so similar applications listed in the store. For this review I picked two that seemed fairly full featured.

Last Call is a free application from Avvo, Inc. Interestingly, Avvo is an attorney rating and profiling service. To use the application you first must enter your weight and sex in the preferences. As you consume alcoholic beverages you add them to the drink log. The drink selection menu is divided into Beer, Wine, Shot, Cooler, and Cocktail categories. Using Beer as an example, the selection is further divided into generic styles, with predetermined alcohol levels ranging from Low Alcohol Beer (2.7%) to Barley Wine (10%). It may be necessary to pick a percentage that is close, rather than exact. After selecting the beer type, you then pick the serving size. Serving sizes are also fixed, and range from Small Glass (8 oz) to Pitcher (48 oz). After selecting the serving size, you are returned to the main screen. The main screen shows the drinks you've entered so far, and your BAC level. There is also a graph that shows the trend, and where you fall in relation to the .08 legal intoxication level.

When you first add a drink to Last Call, the calculations do not immediately reflect the added alcohol. There appears to be a time lag, which I assume is meant to indicate the rate of absorption into the blood stream. After adding a drink, the reflected alcohol will rise with time. After a while, when new drinks are no longer added, the alcohol level will slowly drop. The updating display gives an interesting visual prediction of when the alcohol level in your body will be reduced or negated. As a stark reminder of the dangers of over-indulgence, there is also a button labeled "Intoxicated." Selecting this presents you with an option, tied to Google Maps, to locate a taxi service. A second option is labeled "Find Nearby DUI Lawyers." I strongly urge you to avoid needing that option.

Cheers! is a similar application, but with a small $2.99 price tag. The interface is a little more complicated than the previous application, but provides a greater level of granularity. To begin you set your weight, sex, and the legal BAC limit. The main screen shows the drink log, and also provides data on the total ounces of actual alcohol consumed. The drink selection menu is divided into Beer, Wine, and Liquor categories. In each of these sections, you enter the serving size in half ounce increments, and the alcohol percentage in 1% increments. There is also a quantity selection. I guess that might be useful if you are really throwing back the drinks.

The status tab shows the current BAC percentage to a somewhat excessive 8 decimal places, along with a clear indication of where that is in relation to the legal limit you entered in the preferences. Hitting the refresh button will recalculate the percentage. Like Last Call, this application also provides a link to Google Maps in order to find a local taxi should you find yourself in that situation. There is also a drink log screen that shows all the entries in the session. In contrast to Last Call, as a drink is added the application assumes the alcohol is already absorbed into your blood stream.

Both of these applications provide similar results. When entering the same data into both applications, the reported BAC level is higher initially in Cheers!. However, both applications eventually synchronize, and the rate at which the level drops appears to be about the same. Cheers! offers more granular drink entry options, for both serving size and alcohol content. I found the display of the BAC trend to be an interesting feature of Last Call. Both applications can record drinks for just one user. It might be fun to be able enter data for a drinking partner at the same time.

To repeat what was noted at the top of this post, I consider both of these apps, and similar ones offered in the iPhone App store, to be for entertainment purposes only. There are additional factors that affect the rate of absorption of alcohol into your body that cannot be taken into account by these applications. Everyone's metabolism rate is different. To properly determine BAC requires a breathalyzer or a blood test. Responsible drinkers will know, and respect their limits.

Download Last Call on iTunes here.
Download Cheers! on iTunes here.

1 comment:

  1. There's also How Drunk –


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