The story of BACtrack is the story of President and Founder Keith Nothacker and his 14+ year struggle to bring accurate, dependable and affordable breathalyzers to the market for both personal and professional use. His inspiring story is an example of how persistence really does pay off.
Back when Keith was an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, an unusual, though completely reasonable, thought struck him: why could someone be arrested and sent to jail with a Blood Alcohol Content over 0.08%, when the general public had no way to test and measure their own BAC? Recognizing an opportunity and also recognizing that personal breathalyzers could save lives and prevent DUIs, Keith and his team developed the first line of consumer breathalyzers.
It was 2003 when Keith began importing shipments of breathalyzers from Asia. When the FDA caught wind of this, they started detaining the shipments, saying the product was not FDA cleared. In fact, no breathalyzer had ever received FDA clearance because the market had not previously existed. So Keith and his team worked with the FDA to create the evaluation criteria for the personal breathalyzer category. He worked closely with them to set the performance requirements, the packaging and labeling criteria, and overall standards for evaluation. This became the benchmark against which all other products were tested. In addition to creating new products, Keith helped to create the regulatory framework for the category.
Happily, through this process, he was granted a 510(k) approval by the FDA. BACtrack became the first company to sell personal breathalyzers in the USA. But that was only the beginning.
While it may seem intuitive now that a consumer can buy a personal breathalyzer, this was certainly not the case in early 2000s; breathalyzers primarily existed only for law enforcement use. For years, Keith and the BACtrack team exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show, and at countless other local, regional, and national shows and events. The goal was to build buyer and consumer awareness literally from the ground up. Over time, BACtrack developed a full line of products for personal use, and for professional use, trusted by law enforcement, the military, hospitals and clinics.
Media presence also increased. Keith parlayed an appearance on The Dr. Phil Show as “The Breathalyzer Expert” into a 2nd Dr. Phil appearance, then two appearances on The Doctors, and then on Oprah’s All Stars, MythBusters, and other high-visibility programs.
The culmination of this development was the release the world's first smartphone breathalyzer, BACtrack Mobile, in April, 2013. The following year, another smartphone breathalyzer was released, BACtrack Vio. Today, these products integrate with Apple Watch and the Apple Health app; the latter which allows users to see how their BAC level can impact sleep, activity and overall health.
These devices and the full line of BACtrack products are now helping people make responsible decisions while drinking, and potentially saving hundreds, if not thousands of lives.
Because BACtrack established itself as the pioneer and industry leader, major national retail stores like Costco, Walgreens, and BestBuy all carry BACtrack. There is now widespread consumer awareness of personal breathalyzers—in no small part, because of the efforts of Keith Nothacker.
Cult of Mac ran a profile on Keith earlier this year – read it here.
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