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Prototype Scanner for drunk driver and auto thieves

December 15, 2008

Two students at a Chinese university have invented a device that detects high blood alcohol levels by inserting a middle finger directly onto a fingerprint scanner.

This development bodes well for other hand gesture controls in future car innovations. We might have an upside-down touch screen where the car is started by 'curling your index finger towards you in a summoning motion,' or a by flashing a simple thumbs up at scanning robot.

Zhao Wencai and Li Zhoumu, from China's University of Geosciences, presented their device at Beijing's 3rd annual China-International Road Safety Expo, an event whose growth reflects the country's growing concern for driving safety. According to the project's estimates, there are about 250,000 traffic accidents a year and more than 50,000 deaths caused by drunk driving in China.

The device combines an identification security system with fingerprint testing. A driver places his middle finger inside a scanning box which analyzes the grooves of the fingerprint, as well as the chemical properties of the skin (such as oils or sweat). Within twenty seconds, the board reveals whether the driver's condition is suitable to drive. If the blood-alcohol level is above the legal limit, the engine will lock up.

The gadget also serves as a theft prevention device. The finger print scanner has a database of people allowed to drive the car, so no one can break in and take it for a ride, even if they're sober. Presumably, you'd need scan all of the fingerprints of people who might potentially use your car in the case of an emergency. A similar scanning device, the ATRD M10, was unveiled last year.

It won't happen, but it would be great if the government forces American companies to add a feature like this to all their cars in the current bailout negotiations. According to the Center for Disease Control, one person dies every thirty-one minutes in the U.S from accidents related to drink driving and the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.
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