Smart "ice cubes" tell you when you've had too much to drink
January 15, 2013
With a few drinks under our belts, many of us can think every thought that crosses our mind is a work of genius, and one student at MIT certainly drew some alcohol-induced inspiration after a late night of revelry – though not exactly the way he would've liked. Following a party that ended with a trip to the hospital, Dhairya Dand created a set of "ice cubes" that track how much you drink and flash red to tell you when you've had too much.
Dand, a student with MIT's Media Lab, created the set of glowing cubes after a particularly nasty experience with alcohol that ended with him blacking out and waking up in the hospital seven hours later. Realizing that many people are just as likely to make the same mistake without some sort of clear warning, he designed the cubes to monitor a person's alcohol intake and change color from green to red, giving them a visual cue to stop.
Each cube is comprised of a colored LED, an accelerometer, IR receivers, and a battery, which are molded into an edible, waterproof jelly to keep the circuitry protected without affecting the taste of the drink. The accelerometer calculates the number of sips a person takes and compares it with a timer to estimate their level of intoxication and change the color of the flashing LEDs.
With one cube of each color (green, yellow, and red) in a glass, the light changes from green to red depending on how much alcohol a person imbibes. If a person keeps drinking after the red cube lights up, a text will be sent to a designated friend to ask them to step in. As a bonus, the LEDs will flash in time to ambient noise, such as music at a party.
The concept seems like a good idea for those who have a hard time knowing when they've had too much to drink. However, it does raise a few questions, such as how accurate it is to measure a person's intoxication by the number of sips they take in a given amount of time. Dand set his cubes to flash red on the third drink, but other people might need to have their limits set either higher or lower depending on a variety of factors, such as body weight.
The smart ice cubes could still be a useful device though, particularly for party-goers who need to make sure they don't have one drink too many or bars that want to ensure their patrons stay safe.
Check out the video below to see how Dhairya Dand built and tested his smart ice cubes.
Source: Dhairya Dand
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