Can the iPhone reduce OUI's?

With New Years rapidly approaching, and thoughts about drinking on the holidays, I figured I’d give Timebom LLC's  iAlcohol Lite app (free) a try.  There is also a full ($1.99) version.  Knowing when you’re blood alcohol level is below your state’s limit (in Maine it's .05%) seems like it might help reduce OUI’s.  

The app has a lot of potential, indeed it is quite sophisticated… which, depending on why you're using it, is its Achilles heel, let me explain. 

For this app to work, to help you manage your alcohol consumption, you really have to set it up before you drink.

Upon opening the app you’re taken to a “parameters” screen where you set up the drinks you consume; wine, spirits, etc (interestingly missing, is beer), then the number of drinks, length of time you spend drinking and when you “finished” drinking.  To me the language suggests one sets this up after they've been drinking.   Then once you have those parameters set, you're ready to factor in whether you’ve eaten or done any exercise like dancing, walking or just going to sleep.  You then get a results page that sets a timer for you’re count down to sobriety.

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Do you see the potential problem here?

This app is a bit too detailed for anyone who might be approaching inebriation.  You really have to set this up before drinking. 

Of course once you do that, you have to follow the plan you’ve outline to be at least somewhat accurate or the calculations will be off.

I would be cautious about using this app outside of an academic environment where one might be studying the effects of alcohol.  I also see it as potentially useful in some of the non-abstinence treatment programs where the goal might be to reduce though not stop drinking.  While this app has some merit, I would be cautious about relying on it if you plan to drink this new years eve and are looking for a way to understand if you're intoxicated – in my opinion it's a bit more expensive but a lot safer to just hire a cab to drive you home.

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I'm a behavioral health professional living and working in Maine specializing in psychiatric rehabilitation. For years I've utilized mobile technology to improve the delivery of community based mental health services, and embraced the iPhone when it came out in 2007.

I am also a doctoral candidate at Franklin Pierce University where I have been researching the role of the Liberal Arts in American higher education.

I write as a guest for iPhone Life periodically with a special interest in helping other professionals (healthcare, education and government in particular) incorporate iOS devices into their work, and several years ago introduced the first iPhone and eventually iPad classes at Lewiston Adult Education in Lewiston Maine concentrating on helping other professionals interested in using and incorporating iPads into their work.