A 23-year-old MIT student has invented LED ice cubes that tell a person when he or she has had too much to drink, and can even text a friend for help. He created the product last fall, after he had too many drinks at an MIT party, had a blackout, and landed in the hospital, according to recent news reports.
The student, Dhairya Dand, a researcher on superhuman interactions at the MIT Media Lab, said he remembers having three drinks before waking up seven hours later in the hospital, as Liz Klimas reports for The Blaze.
Sara Gates writes for The Huffington Post that Dand came up with his idea after getting into trouble with MIT’s administration after his blackout. During an administrative hearing, MIT asked him to write a research paper on alcohol consumption.
Gates quotes Dand:
‘In a sudden flash I had an idea of making some device that would be cool to have in a party as well as keep your alcohol intake in check,’ Dand told the Huffington Post. ‘As I went back to think about what would be the most fun way to engage the user, I thought of ice cubes.’
From the hospital, Dand went back to the lab and spent three weeks inventing Cheers, the alcohol-aware ice cubes that glow and groove to ambient music, as Christina Lopez writes for the ABC News blog Science. She notes that the ice cubes change color to alert the drinker when he or she has had too much to drink.
In an online video, Dand demonstrates how the cubes change as they respond to the amount of alcohol a person consumes. An accelerometer keeps track of how often the glass is raised to someone’s lips; a timer helps estimate how intoxicated the person is. The LED inside each cube will light up in green, yellow or red. 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. Dand housed the electronics in waterproof cubes.
If the drinker continues drinking beyond the red level, the ice cubes can electronically transmit a text message warning a friend through the IR (infrared) channel, Gates notes, and a specific phone app allows users to designate the emergency contacts.
Dand told Lopez that his inventions are open-source, for anyone to hack, develop, and play around with. “True innovations are like ideas with wings; once they take birth in a mind, nothing, not even the inventor, can stop them,” he said.
It would not be surprising if these ice cubes become another way to prevent drunk driving. However, one commenter named “mpasmith” is more cynical. He or she writes, in response to The Huffington Post article about Dand’s invention:
You don’t need these ice cubes.
You need a designated driver if you need something like this.
Gates writes that although Dand did not plan to market the ice cubes at first, he is now thinking of launching a Kickstarter campaign because people have been so enthusiastic about his invention. Lopez writes that Dand spent only $50 plus his time to create the ice cubes.
You can see a video about the ice cubes here: