January 14, 2013

MIT Student Blacks Out from Alcohol, Invents High Tech Solution the Next Day


Drinking can be fun, funny or downright dangerous when taken beyond its legal limits. When drinking goes too far, it can lead to alcohol-induced blackouts, or what many college undergrads naively describe as their average Saturday night. The only thing is that getting that out of control is neither funny nor safe. For most of us who suffer from a night of too much drinking, we spend the next day in bed watching re-runs while trying to eat granola bars or pop tarts, but 23-year old MIT student Dhairya Dand decided to wake up the next day and invent a piece of technology that puts the rest of us to shame.

 After experiencing an unfortunate trip to the hospital, Dand immediately hit MIT’s Media Lab, where he promptly created LED ice cubes, which serve as a direct solution to track alcohol intake to avoid such blackouts from occurring. These ice cubes, called Cheers, are described as “alcohol-aware ice cubes that glow and groove to ambient music,” according to one report. The key is that they begin to change colors once you’ve had a bit too much to drink.

However, this is college, and there are probably not many who are too keen on something so restricting. Lo and behold, Dand’s friends weren’t too receptive to his idea at first. “They joked around when I told them I was going to make these ice cubes in reflection to what I went through at the party,” Dand told abc News last week. “That’s normal. With every new thing there is resistance.”

In short, an accelerometer keeps track of how often the glass is raised to someone’s lips, where a timer also helps estimate just how often the individual is drinking, and thus, how quickly or slowly he or she is becoming intoxicated. The ice cubes light up to three distinctive colors – green, yellow and red – which all represent something different. Green signals a first drink (kind of like when you’re at the “Go” phase), and when it phases to yellow, that means that the drinker’s alcohol level is rising to its limits, and when it finally turns red, it means to stop.

These cubes can also text message your friends if the person needs help after drinking too much. Dand explained in said interview that “the cubes talk to your phone to make the call. They communicate over IR [infrared] with a customer removable IR receiver fitted on the smartphone’s audio jack.”

Dand is hoping to create a budget-friendly solution to something that he shares a personal experience with as well as has a passion for, but that hasn’t stopped him from extending an invitation to those with lingering eyes for the project. He continues, “I believe in open-source. My inventions are open to be hacked, developed and played around,” said Dand. “True [innovations] are like ideas with wings, once they take birth in a mind, nothing, not even the inventor, can stop them.”




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli



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