Don’t Let the Term Breathalyzer Fool You


We are frequently asked why we chose Hound Labs for our company name. That’s a good story that Mike explains in this video. We are also asked why we decided to refer to our solution as a breathalyzer, and that’s an interesting story we haven’t explained… until now.

Choosing the name Hound® for our company and our product was much easier than deciding on the term to describe what our new product would do. We considered thousands of names before we settled on breathalyzer. However, don’t let the word breathalyzer fool you; the HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER has several core differences compared to an alcohol breathalyzer. Of course, there are also several similarities – providing pros and cons for using the term breathalyzer as a reference to the groundbreaking ultra-sensitive Hound® technology.


First, cannabis acts very differently in the human body than alcohol. As Mike wrote in his blog, The Challenges of Building a Marijuana Breathalyzer, in order to successfully measure THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) in breath, the technology underlying the HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER must measure in parts per trillion (1,000,000,000,000) because THC molecules appear in such low concentrations in breath and degrade very quickly. An alcohol molecule, by contrast, does not require ultra-sensitive technology as the molecule appears in concentrations of parts per thousand (1,000) and degrades much more slowly.

What does this all mean? A cannabis breathalyzer must be 1 billion times more sensitive than an alcohol breathalyzer. We couldn’t just start with alcohol breathalyzer technology and adapt it to be more sensitive. Instead, we looked to highly sophisticated laboratory analysis equipment as our inspiration. Laboratories across the country use liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometer (LC/MS) to analyze minute compounds. Unless you are explicitly trained or work in a specialized industry, you probably haven’t heard of LC/MS. If you did run across it, you would probably go to Wikipedia to find this definition:

Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) is an analytical chemistry technique that combines the physical separation capabilities of liquid chromatography2 (or HPLC3) with the mass analysis capabilities of mass spectrometry 4(MS). Coupled chromatography – MS systems are popular in chemical analysis because the individual capabilities of each technique are enhanced synergistically. While liquid chromatography separates mixtures with multiple components, mass spectrometry provides spectral information that may help to identify (or confirm the suspected identity of) each separated component.

As Mike described in another blog, The Challenges of Building a Marijuana Breathalyzer: Part 2, we had to invent new technology with similar sensitivity that could fit into a carrying case and ensure the solution was easy to use. So, while there are plenty of more technical names we could have used, these would not have clarified why people would need our product, so we eliminated those names.


Another key difference between the HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER and an alcohol breathalyzer is that the Hound® solution self-calibrates. Each time an administrator uses a disposable Hound® breath-capture cartridge, the unit calibrates automatically, making it easy to ensure accuracy and optimal performance. Unlike alcohol breathalyzers, there is no need to remember to calibrate the system or follow a long list of calibration steps.


Another significant technology difference between alcohol breathalyzers and the HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER is the single-use cartridge with a built-in mouthpiece employed by the Hound® breath technology. Utilizing a single-use cartridge provides security benefits due to the increased tamper resistance of the sample encased in a durable material. Additionally, a single-use cartridge conveniently collects just one sample that can be used for on-site determination of results and future lab confirmation required by employer or law enforcement protocols.


Although the Hound Labs’ ultra-sensitive breath technology differs fundamentally from alcohol breathalyzer technology in several significant ways, there are several similarities. Like an alcohol breathalyzer, the Hound® solution is portable, providing on-site sample collection and analysis. Also, like an alcohol breathalyzer, the Hound® solution provides objective data on-location about whether an employee or driver used cannabis recently, mirroring alcohol breathalyzers that provide objective data on-site about whether alcohol was recently consumed.


Despite the differences, we decided that linking our new technology with the familiar term breathalyzer was the right choice because both provide the benefits of helping to maintain safety by deterring use while also maintaining privacy by measuring only recent use… not use that looks back days, weeks, or months prior to the test.

To learn more about the Hound® solution check out our blog Top 5 Questions about the HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER or contact us with any additional questions.    

March 31, 2022