Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: See You There!
Next story: No Gas Pains

Christine Montag: Co-founder/COO Ladybug Technologies

Get to know a Buffalonian...

Christine Montag: Co-Founder/COO, Ladybug Technologies

Beginning Friday October 21, Ladybug Technologies, a Canadian startup which markets itself as a “social technology” firm, will launch its’ first American-based SipSmart breathalyzer machine at Caputi’s Pub in Tonawanda. The stylish in-bar kiosks—which have previously been installed at a bar in Hamilton, Ont.—are part of a pilot program that allows users to track their blood alcohol content and accurately gauge whether they are sober enough to comply with local drinking and driving laws. For $5 dollars, each user is granted three breath tests throughout the course of the night, ultimately, a small price to pay for the legal and ethical security it affords.

Buffalo has an unfortunate reputation as a town where drinking and driving might not be as culturally taboo as in other cities. Did that play a role in choosing the area to test the SipSmart? What are you hoping to accomplish with the Buffalo location?

Buffalo is not alone in that I’m sure. Our US office is located at UB Incubator and we have been given great support from this community. We really chose Buffalo to pilot our SipSmart Network Kiosk as a way to give back to our local community.

How have local bar owners responded to the machine? Were they worried about the potential loss of business?

We have had mixed responses. Yes, some bar owners are worried that the machine will have a negative impact on their revenues. The concern is that if people know their blood alcohol level, known as BAC that they will in fact stop drinking. Other bar owners view this as the game changing technology to the bar industry in a positive way. It is a tool on premise that will allow social drinkers to test themselves and know their real BAC. They will now be able to make an informed decision - coined “Drink with your head”. For some this will mean they can relax when leaving the bar to drive home knowing that they are in fact with in legal limits, for others they will stop drinking sooner. Either way society benefits.

How accurate is the breathalyzer? Is it easy to use and can be people who have been drinking be trusted to use it properly?

The breathalyser inside the kiosk is in fact an approved police road side screener or PBT (personal breath tester). It will be calibrated on a regular basis following police protocol to ensure its level of accuracy is maintained. The technology is easy to use and is “drunk” proof. It requires a proper breath sample in order to give a BAC reading. In simple terms, if the breath sample provided is not sufficient, it will error out and ask the user to provide another breath sample.

What about privacy concerns? What do you plan to do with the information that is collected?

The user will create an unique login ID and password which will allow them to use the kiosk. The BAC will be displayed on the screen to the user and in future there will be the ability to SMS the result to your Smartphone. The results are very private and up to the user to decide whether to share this information or not. The information is being stored in aggregate only, completely disconnected from the login ID created. If Johnny provided a breath sample, no one will be able to connect Johnny’s BAC to his login ID.

What is the target demographic for the SipSmart? Besides common sense and responsibility what is being done to market the SipSmart to bar patrons?

We believe social drinkers between the ages of 21 and 35 will use the SipSmart Network. We appeal to this group with social media, digital content and social networking. We are running a pilot commencing this Friday October 21st at Caputi’s Sheridan Pub in Tonawanda. We will have a street tem on premise promoting the kiosk in the bar. We have a pilot running in Canada as well as a third machine that will be moved around to various venues. We invite users of the SipSmart Network to provide feedback about their experience at using the contact us page.

bonus: Are you concerned the machines might encourage a certain crowd to engage in cavalier drinking behavior?

We have priced the breath sampling on the kiosk at $5 for 3 breath samples over the course of an evening. We believe this price point is significant enough to deter gaming and promote bar patrons to use it for which it was intended, informed consumption. We developed the SipSmart Network to allow social drinkers of all ages and all income levels to have access to real breath screening technology, to shift the paradigm of drinking responsibly to the individual. Social drinkers have consumed alcohol for multiple generations but have never had access to the tools that will enable them to know with certainty what their BAC level is but yet have been held legally accountable to.

bonus: How will social networking ultimately play a role in the SipSmart?

The future version of the SipSmart Network will have our BAQ Tracker Mobile Application available on all SmartPhone devices which will allow full interactivity between the SmartPhone, the Kiosk and the Network. Social drinkers will benefit from being be part of a private social network of like minded people.

blog comments powered by Disqus