A Portable Breath Alcohol Meter
ASIC Device Reduces Product Cost and Enhances Product Performance
Technologies used

    Mixed Signal ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    29 Electrical Domestic Equipment
    331 Medical Equipment
    332 Instruments and Appliances for Measuring, Checking, Testing etc
    333 Optical Instruments

Lion Laboratories operates in the niche market of breath alcohol detection, and has developed, produced and marketed alcohol detection equipment since1967. Although most business is in the law enforcement field there is also an expanding industrial market for alcohol detection equipment. The company currently employs 95 people in these activities, with a turnover of 8.3 MEUR and exports 60% of its products.

The company's existing products include the lion alcolmeter® 300 and 400 Series of products. These products consist of a family of hand held battery operated breath analysers, and are based on the use of a microcontroller device to interpret, display and record breath alcohol transducer measurements.

The objective of the application experiment was to reduce the manufacturing costs and increase the functionality of the lion alcolmeter® product by the introduction of mixed signal ASIC device technology. The cost reductions and product improvements will enable the company to expand its market share of developing export markets for breath alcohol detection equipment. The improved product will include the following enhancements:

  • Extended battery life by the use of a more efficient regulator.
  • A memory capacity increase from 150 battery-backed records to 10,000 non-volatile records.
  • Replacement of the manually adjusted potentiometers in the analogue section by electronically controlled methods.
  • Improved display driver facilities for greater character range.
  • Firmware updates and custom firmware uploaded via the RS232 port.

The introduction of the ASIC device will result in a 15% decrease in the printed circuit board (PCB) assembly and test costs.

The total implementation costs were 231.9 KECU, of which 60KECU represented the costs of industrialisation for the product. Using the projected sales volumes the net result of the additional product sales profitability translates into a return on the investment of 360% and a payback of approximately 27 months on the initial development costs. The relatively long payback period is a consequence of the lengthy time to market required in gaining approvals for the improved product.

The application experiment was completed in February 1999 and had a duration of 13 months.


    Lion Laboratories Limited
    Ty - Verlon Industrial Estate
    Cardiff Road
    Vale of Glamorgan
    CF63 2BE
    United Kingdom.

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Mixed Signal ASIC technology provided Lion Laboratories Limited with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

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Univercity of Glamorgan
Mid Glamorgan
Pontypridd CF37 1DL
United Kingdom