Success Story

Sober Steering

Sober Steering has developed what is believed to be the world’s only touch-based alcohol interlock.

A drunk driver gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, loses control and hurts –or kills – himself and possibly others. It’s a tragic story that could have been prevented with some new OCE-supported technology from Waterloo-based Sober Steering.

Founded in 2009, and led by Catherine Carroll, CEO, and her father John Carroll, CTO, the company moved from Florida to Ontario to gain access to Ontario expertise and supportive government programs. It also gained the use of specialized equipment by partnering with the University of Waterloo’s engineering department.

Sober Steering has developed what is believed to be the world’s only touch-based alcohol interlock. Upon ignition, the driver places a hand on the biosensor pad in the wheel. Biosensors analyze the gases exuded from the skin. If any alcohol detected exceeds a pre-set limit, the vehicle is immobilized and an instant message is sent to dispatch or to parents. Random retests ensure that the driver maintains sobriety while driving. Sober Steering’s Zero Tolerance System is available for fleet vehicles and select other installations.

In 2011, the company started working with OCE on the sensor development via Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre. OCE provided support through the Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle (CVAV) and TalentEdge programs.

The platform has been used in Waterloo-area school buses for 18 months and will expand to other industries to monitor drivers of hazardous vehicles and trucks. With OCE’s support, it also plans to commercialize a wearable version of the product for consumers, which could benefit parents monitoring teens driving.

Sober Steering has received significant follow-on investment from angel investors in the U.S. and plans to expand to the U.S. market with school buses in select states.

Return on Innovation

  • Employs six team members, including one sourced through TalentEdge
  • Team projects doubling in the next year
  • OCE Investment: $150,000

OCE©2016 Last updated 10/2016