Start-up company Breathometer, which claimed to create the “world’s first smartphone breathalyzer,” recently reached a settlement with the FTC regarding the false claims the company advertised to consumers. This comes on the heels of the agency levying fines for another popular, top-grossing Instant Blood Pressure app for deceptive advertising.
Breathometer Original and Breeze versions are devices that the user connects with a smartphone or tablet and a free medical app. The technology then gives them a read out of their breath alcohol level, which is an indicator of their blood alcohol level. Advertisements for both products claimed that they had undergone “government-lab grade testing” and were “law enforcement grade.”
The company became a sensation in 2013 after a successful Indiegogo campaign and an appearance by Breathometer founder and CEO Charles Michael Yim on the television program Shark Tank where he received $1 million from the show’s panel of investors.
The FTC shared no such excitement. In a press release, Jessica Rich the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection stated that: “People relied on the defendant’s products to decide whether it was safe to get behind the wheel. Overstating the accuracy of the devices was deceptive — and dangerous.”
In the settlement, Breathometer agreed to only make accuracy claims in the future with rigorous testing and to refund past customers (which amounts to $5.1 million dollars). A blog post from the company had this to say:
“We feel it is important to clarify that this settlement does not undermine our achievements in creating quality consumer health devices. We proactively stopped manufacturing Original and Breeze in 2015 prior to the FTC’s inquiry. ”
This post further elaborated on the company’s current and future plans which revolve around a product called Mint that measures sulfur and biomarkers in the user’s breath to determine dental health.