“Cheers!”- Ice cubes that monitor alcohol intake

Almost everyone has their version of a how-much-did-I-drink-last-night story. You get caught up celebrating with friends or talking for hours over a glass – turned bottle – turned two or three bottles – of wine. You either recall all the embarrassing details that unfolded, or you wake up the next morning wishing you could remember something. Many of us chalk it up to a life lesson, and others are hell-bent on repeating that lesson over, and over, and over again.

For popular bars and clubs with younger patrons, a new gadget might be a cool new product you can sell patrons. It is sure to spark a local trend and social media attention from your customers. MIT student Dhairya Dand invented ice cubes that signal when you’ve had too much to drink. An LED inside the ice cubes change color (green, yellow, or red) according to how much alcohol you’ve consumed (This initial version requires the user to use all three cubes, one in each color.) Green signals a first drink; yellow is a warning that your alcohol level is getting high. Red is a warning to stop drinking — you’ve probably had too much. The ice cubes also flash along with the surrounding bar music.

How does it work? Each cube contains an accelerometer that keeps track of how many sips you take, coupled with a timer to estimate your level of intoxication. These devices are molded into a waterproof ice cube shape and are surrounded with material that can be frozen to function like a regular ice cube.

Wait! There’s more! The cubes can even send a text message to friends when you’ve imbibed a little too much. The Cheers cube communicates over IR [infrared] with a custom removable IR receiver fitted on your smartphone’s audio jack.

There is also a free bonus. Dhairya Dand considers his invention “shareware” and is willing to share his technology with other inventors who might be able to add new and exciting features to Cheers. This is excellent news, since the limited features of the technology raises immediate questions of accuracy. Intoxication varies widely depending on factors such as weight and metabolism. Cheers may not be perfect, but it is an excellent example of finding innovative solutions to common problems. In the end, no technology will beat “responsible partying,” but who couldn’t use a little guidance every now and again?