Author: Justin Mckibben
It seems more and more every day we are finding new and inventive ways to try and combat the dangers of excessive drinking, and with today being the digital age it is no surprise that people are now-a-days turning to technology to help us design barriers between us and alcohol abuse. But are we still underestimating alcohol in America?
Well one new way to avoid excessive alcohol consumption is a project that began with one bad experience from a college student that lead to an interesting concept. Recently we have looked into other similar inventions like alcohol reading wrist bands and breathalyzer apps for our smartphones, so this is another interesting take on how one student aims to avoid over-indulgence.
The Learning Experience
The brains behind this colorful project is MIT student Dhairya Dand, who shortly before developing his idea had experienced a night of drinking where after remembering 3 drinks, he had what is often called a ‘black-out’ or a period of time lapsed where he has no recollection of the events due to excessively drinking alcohol.
Dand came up with his creative solution to ‘accidental’ binge drinking, and immediately got to work on the design. The idea was to build ice cubes that actually change colors depending how much alcohol the individual has consumed.
The simple inner-workings of the cube include:
- LED light
- IR Transceivers
Which are all molded with an edible jelly into a waterproof cube. The way the system works is there is a circuit in each cube that is set to keep track of how many times an individual sips their drink using the accelerometers motion data, in relation to the timer chip, to measure how much you are drinking in a time frame.
The ice cube will change color from green in the beginning, to orange, and once the cube has determined that you’ve had too much, they turn red. In an example shown during a video preview, if you have 3 drinks in under 30 minutes, the glass will alert you. And if you keep drinking after that, they text your friends to let them know you need to be cut off.
The LED lights in the cubes also react to sound, so they glow and beat to ambient music! It is practically its own party accessory, with a hint of responsibility.
Some Concerns with the Concept
While the idea is pretty cool, there are still some questions to be taken into consideration. No new device so far invented is fool-proof to keep people from getting intoxicated, and others are believed to be more likely to enable them. There are some obvious limitations to the technology. One obvious limitation for this invention, what if your friends’ ice cubes are all blinking red? Who will come save you from yourself?
Another concern with relying on this system is more specific. Unless you drink only one type of drink and only raise the glass to your mouth to take identical sips every single time, some would say this system is useless. If your first drink is a beer, and then you switch to hard liquor, you’re going to get drunk a lot quicker!
Not only is there an immense difference between the alcohol content in different beverages, but there is also a big difference in the size of sip each person takes. Some take smaller sips from the same drink all night, while others down entire glasses in a single gulp. If the accelerometer (which measures how many times you raise the glass to your mouth) and a timer are the only tools that determine “amount drunk”, then the person who gulps a whole drink could measure less drunk than the person taking small sips, even though the sip has less alcohol.
These inventions always seem interesting, and in a lot of ways it is understandable and admirable that young people are doing their best to try and be more responsible. But I think with some of these we get confused between setting new standards and giving ourselves more excuses to drink. For an alcoholic like me, it doesn’t matter what color my ice-cube is, I probably would keep drinking. So maybe for people who find themselves blacking out regularly, it’s a better idea to consider the causes of their alcohol abuse and get help.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism claim far too many lives, not only hurting those who drink but also impacting the people they endanger while intoxicated. We can try and create new technology to fix this, but in the end we have to make a decision. Is it worth our lives, and the lives of others, or do we get the help? If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135