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High school students invent ‘SpitStrips’ to detect alcohol in saliva

High school students invent ‘SpitStrips’ to detect alcohol in saliva



By Taline McPhedran

August 17, 2016

A youth-run start-up is hoping to create a simple strip of paper that can read a person’s blood alcohol content after drinking and hopefully stop people from getting behind the wheel.


SpitStrips, created by a group of high school students, is a saliva-based blood-alcohol content indicator that can tell a person if they are over the legal alcohol limit and influence their decision to drive.


Users would spit onto the pad on the strip, or dab it on their tongue, then place the strip back into the re-sealable package and wait two minutes for the successful reaction.


“The pad on the strip will change colour based on your blood alcohol content and you can match this with our packaging which as all of the BACs on it,” said Harsh Shah, president of SpitStrips.


Different blood alcohol contents are separated by colour and are in groups, for example a blood alcohol content of between 0.02 and 0.04 would be classified by the same colour.


According to Shah, the idea for the product came after a Western University student was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver as she was going home for the night. The group then saw the way this impacted her friends and family.


“Later that week we were part of an entrepreneurial competition looking to change the world,” said Shah. “We decided that drunk driving was the issue we wanted to tackle.”


The responsible drinking start-up is currently working with the Ryerson University DMZ, a business incubator, and taking advantage of the mentors and different industry professionals they get to work with. They are currently talking to a Ryerson University professor to figure out the exact chemical equation needed for the strips.


“We want to make it as quick as possible. We don’t want to make it a hassle to use,” said Shah.


According to Shah, SpitStrips will actually provide a more accurate reading of blood alcohol content than a Breathalyzer. A Breathalyzer has a breath to blood alcohol concentration of 0.0048 to 1 while saliva to blood alcohol concentration is exactly 1 to 1, said Shah.


SpitStrips is currently in the prototyping phase and in the last year raised more than $500 on their now closed IndieGoGo page.