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Smart Ice Cubes Tell When You've Had Enough Alcohol 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the slow-down dept.
dstates writes "In just 6 weeks an MIT researcher created smart ice cubes that monitor your drinking. After an alcohol induced blackout motivated a bit of introspection (video), Dhairya Dand pulled together a coin cell battery, an ATtiny microcontroller, and an IR transceiver molded into gelatin to create self-aware glowing ice-cubes. The cubes glow and beat to the ambient music, but more importantly, they know how fast and how much you are drinking, and they change color from green to orange to finally red as you reach your safe limit. If things go too far, the ice cubes can connect to your smartphone and send a text message for a friend come get you. Of course, you have to remember not to swallow them."
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Smart Ice Cubes Tell When You've Had Enough Alcohol

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they know what's good for them!

  • by Dark$ide (732508)
    ... When some drunk pillock swallows one? How soon does it take before the lawsuit?
    • by Phelony (2628303)
      Let me guess, you're an attorney in California?
    • by backslashdot (95548) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:48PM (#42576319)

      Maybe they should have designed these features into the cup rather than something that drops in the alcohol. THe cup can probably do more sensory related stuff.

      • by mikael (484)

        Or embed them at the base of the glass so it doesn't make cleaning any harder. I thought of having a glass with the ice cubes fixed in place, but that would be impossible to clean.

    • _FLUBBER_ !

      sorry . . . just watched the movie with my kids

    • Seems like a number of things could be done to reduce the likelihood of accidental ingestion. For example, he could have the functional bits encased in a smaller solid piece, then have that inside a plastic ice cube shaped object with a mesh structure along the sides so water can penetrate and freeze inside, and melt outside. Then it should be safe enough. Assuming the cube is large enough without being too unwieldy, that danger should be reduced.

      There needs to be a point in which you can say you did what y

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        Seems like a number of things could be done to reduce the likelihood of accidental ingestion. For example, he could have the functional bits encased in a smaller solid piece...

        Like a cup?

        There needs to be a point in which you can say you did what you could for safety but there's some inherent danger if the person is negligent enough.

        Or drinking alcohol?

        I mean...

        You don't know what you mean.

  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:05PM (#42576047)

    and no marketability.

    "Ice Cubes that connect to your smartphone." This is not the brave new future that I want.

    Honestly, this should be an early contender for the 2013 ig-Nobels (though I'm guessing / hoping this is just an overhyped undergraduate project). What's particularly bad is that the basic idea is flawed - it uses readings from accelerometers as a proxy for how many sips are being taken per unit time and then this as a proxy for rate and appropriateness of alcohol consumption. While I fully will admit that there is certainly a market for some device, perhaps built into a glass, that would allow a commercial bartender somehow detect whether a patron has had too many (though even that would have lots of legal and practical vulnerabilities), this isn't it and isn't even close.

    Still, kudos for the inventor for trying compared to playing xbox or going out and having a social life or something.

    • by vlm (69642)

      perhaps built into a glass

      Accelerometer to do "something" when thrown onto the ball game field by the drunk fan. Presumably seeing an enormous short term acceleration, correcting for any rotational accelerations, some camera interface could snap pick of perp. I believe drunks throwing bottles at ball game players was why stadia only sell (weak) beer in plastic cups now.

      More likely both sides will try to hack the uC into some manner of proximity fuse for molotov cocktails.

    • this isn't it and isn't even close.

      For under two months of work, it sure as shit is a step in the right direction. Accelerometer isn't perfect but it's a good way of getting around the "constantly sampling your drink" problem that provides a good estimate. It's cool, he was creative, we need more of this.

    • Is he trying to market it? Seems to me he took a bad situation and turned it into a project for himself. Not sure he had making big bucks anywhere on the project checklist.

      Considering the subject matter though and how it all began, I find it kind of silly that you bring up a social life as one of the things he has sacrificed. To think that someone would work on a personal project at any point in their life instead of non-stop partying -- that sure sounds like antisocial behavior to me!

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:08PM (#42576067) Homepage

    As Dean Martin once explained, you're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without hanging on for dear life. That seems like a good test to me.

  • Not going to work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:09PM (#42576069)

    People already have lots of warnings that they have too much to drink. First, if you drink six drinks in one bar, you probably had too much. If you are slurring your words, you probably had to much. If your friends say you had too much, you probably had too much. These smart ice-cubes will not help because it is a problem of impaired judgement, not a problem of impaired measuring ability. After a few drinks I bet most people will just put the cubes in their pocket and ignore them.

    • Re:Not going to work (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:44PM (#42576293)

      I had the exact opposite thought - I could see people buying these and having competitions for who could get their cubes to turn red the fastest.

      For the inventor's intended purpose, though, I can't see a market nor much practical utility. Drinking too much isn't usually due to ignorance. People generally know they're drinking too much - it's either an intentional choice or behavior being driven by addiction.

    • by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:44PM (#42576297)

      First of all people are looking at this negatively. Given 3 women roughly all of the same 1-10 scale, you try to pick up the drunk one by finding the one with flashing red alert ice cubes first. Or going the other way, an ugly woman can find a cute guy with the highest intensity beer googles by looking for the ice cubes flashing red alert. Lastly college students are going to use "alerting ice cubes" for drinking games, not a preventative measure, like whom ever's ice cubes flash red first, wins!

      Secondly, if you're feeling sober-ish and drinking at a bar and then suddenly pass out and wake up in some weirdo's bed or minus one kidney, the problem is not booze and the solution is not wiimotes in icecubes, the problem is someone paid the bartender to slip a pill in ur drink. I was hoping for an embedded EtOH sensor and/or a whole "GC on a chip" sensor unit, not a lame accelerometer.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        First of all people are looking at this negatively. Given 3 women roughly all of the same 1-10 scale, you try to pick up the drunk one by finding the one with flashing red alert ice cubes first. Or going the other way, an ugly woman can find a cute guy with the highest intensity beer googles by looking for the ice cubes flashing red alert.

        The first one seems plausible. The second one doesn't. The guys with flashing red cubes are least likely to get it up.

        • by Shavano (2541114)

          First of all people are looking at this negatively. Given 3 women roughly all of the same 1-10 scale, you try to pick up the drunk one by finding the one with flashing red alert ice cubes first. Or going the other way, an ugly woman can find a cute guy with the highest intensity beer googles by looking for the ice cubes flashing red alert.

          The first one seems plausible. The second one doesn't. The guys with flashing red cubes are least likely to get it up.

          They're the most likely to pay for your drinks though, and the easiest to ditch later on.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      People already have lots of warnings that they have too much to drink. First, if you drink six drinks in one bar, you probably had too much.

      Pub crawling to the rescue. Only drink a few drinks at each place. By the time you hit the third place, you're having fun, and you won't exceed six drinks in one bar.

      If you are slurring your words, you probably had to much.

      "Are we here to talk, or are we here to drink?"
      Most bartenders understand ASL (Alcohol Sign Language) anyhow.

      If your friends say you had too much, you probably had too much.

      Your friends won't tell you you've had enough if you don't go out with your friends. Friends just means trouble anyhow. You try to chat up a dame, and a friend says "Hey, Theobald, I saw you and your two youngest kids at the thrift

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by miroku000 (2791465)

      People already have lots of warnings that they have too much to drink. First, if you drink six drinks in one bar, you probably had too much. If you are slurring your words, you probably had to much. If your friends say you had too much, you probably had too much. These smart ice-cubes will not help because it is a problem of impaired judgement, not a problem of impaired measuring ability. After a few drinks I bet most people will just put the cubes in their pocket and ignore them.

      This will let people know which girls are the drunkest. I wonder if that is a bug or a feature...

  • by CodeheadUK (2717911) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:10PM (#42576085) Homepage

    Seriously, is it that hard to drink and have a good time without pouring crap down your neck till you're shitfaced, grand slam the bed and wake up next to something that needs to be kept wet until it can be rolled back into the ocean?

    Spend hours building a smart ice cube, or thinking, "Hmm the room is spinning, I feel a bit grim and that -2 over there is looking like a 10, I'll ease up a bit". Which is the 'Smart' idea?

    • by jimshatt (1002452)
      The funniest is when you see yourself in the mirror (after taking a piss or something) and you say to yourself "Am I drunk?". The pinnacle of a rethorical question.

      grand slam the bed and wake up next to something that needs to be kept wet until it can be rolled back into the ocean

      The little mermaid?

      But seriously, there's obviously a market for such a device, since there are a lot of people that don't intend to drink too much, but still do because they don't know when to stop, or the drunkness comes very

    • by DarthBart (640519)

      I've never understood this either. My sister used to go out on Friday night, come home drunk and promptly throw up all over the place and wake up with a nuclear hangover, swear that she'll never do it again and then go right the fuck back out the following Friday and rinse & repeat.

      I *loathe* vomiting. I really don't like the idea of going home with a random skank from a bar and "going to bed at 2am with a 10 and waking up at 10am with a 2". One of the reasons I never went to college, I didn't want t

    • by mikael (484)

      Yes. Some people I know would need a Head-Up Display embedded in the bottom of the glass to know that it was they who were having stability problems and not the room that was spinning.

  • by Odonian (730378) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:14PM (#42576121)
    Seems like if you are unable to monitor/regulate your drinking, you are probably also unable to get your act together enough to use smart ice cubes.
  • ...unplug the freezer.
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:22PM (#42576143)

    ...you've had enough. I don't think this is exactly news.

  • As a drinker... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588)
    ...you should know when you've had enough by your own standards. If you do not know when you've had enough, then smart ice cubes will not help you any more than my smart rock.
    • by Thiez (1281866)

      If the cubes count the number of sips, how much must you drink for the number to overflow and the lights to turn green again? Challenge accepted, anyone?

      • by vlm (69642)

        Hope he used char instead of bigint

        I suppose the /. equivalent of drinking a century (locally, that means 100 shots of beer in X length of time, where a weekend is not very impressive and an hour is pretty insane) is drinking a 0xFF hexadecimal.

      • fairly easy to have the threshold "latch" so that after N sips it locks into "red" to prevent this kind of thing

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:26PM (#42576179)

    I find that the same amount of alcohol has very different effect in different times. Sometimes two beers are enough, other times I simply can't get drunk.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      I find that the same amount of alcohol has very different effect in different times. Sometimes two beers are enough, other times I simply can't get drunk.

      Fatigue and other factors play a huge role in your resistance to alcohol.

      Remember that Alcohol is a poison, the fact you're doing to yourself is not withstanding.

      Being tired often turns you into a "cheap date" (meaning you get drunk off few drinks). Eating affects how quickly alcohol is adsorbed into your system, drinking on a full stomach decreases the rate of adsorption hence the saying "Eatin's cheatin". The opposite end of this are times where you can drink 15 drinks and still be ready for more.

  • People who dilute good alcohol with water deserve to have ice cubes bitch about their drinking.
  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:30PM (#42576199)

    What this summary misses is that the blackout sent the dude to the hospital, and not even 3 weeks later he is drinking it up at a party again. Thats a problem blinky ice cubes wont solve

    http://hackaday.com/2013/01/09/led-ice-cubes-prevent-alcohol-induced-blackouts/ [hackaday.com]

    • by Loosifur (954968)

      Man! The competition is over, ladies and gentlemen, and we have a winner!

      People seem to have totally glossed over that part. In my younger days, and even some of my less younger days, there were a few times when I drank so much that I didn't remember the entire night the next morning, or at least not until later in the day after a hamburger and a nap. According to TFA, this guy blacked out after three (3) drinks, so either he was drugged, or he has some sort of severe allergy.

    • by houghi (78078)

      It is you basic solving of a social problem by a technical solution.

  • by willoughby (1367773) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:31PM (#42576205)

    I drink whisky neat.

  • Wasn't sure (Score:2, Funny)

    by oodaloop (1229816)
    I wasn't sure if I like this until I used my Jump to Conclusions mat. I landed on GO WILD. Now I love it! What will they think of next?
  • And not the cup itself, then no one can swallow it... Also you wont have to look like a weirdo putting ice in your beer or wine
  • If it's just counting the number of sips, it's not distinguishing between a long drink or a short drink. Twenty sips of a Long Island Iced Tea is much more potent than twenty sips of a glass of wine or a beer. And shots are tossing back an ounce or more of alcohol in one giant "sip" - when they've been diluted into a mixed drink, that one sip easily turns into ten.
    • by mysidia (191772)

      Yeah... a better idea is a 'smart glass' that knows how much is left in it, via IR/liquid/weight sensors, recognizes your fingerprints when you pick up the glass, and wireless transmits the data about how much sipped, to a computer maintained by the bar, that keeps track of each customer's rate of consumption.

      When you're drinking too fast, the bar computer makes your glass glow red. And if it gets really extreme, the bartender receives an alert to call your friends.

      So anyways, you can't swallow

  • Smart ice cubes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Georules (655379) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:44PM (#42576295)
    How about YOU be smart? Be aware of your own alcohol tolerances.
  • by bartoku (922448) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @03:02PM (#42576403)
    You have had enough alcohol when ice cubes start telling you things.
  • The Las Vegas casinos already have indicator cubes.

    When the dice repeatedly come up craps, this is a signal that you've gambled too much.

  • when it comes to monitoring yourself this is useless since alcohol lowers your ihibition and blocks clear thinking. A better solution would be for bars to use these glasses to assist in monitoring the amount of alcohol a patron has consumed. As it is now they just have guess based on your behaviour, but some people get depressed dwhen the are drunk which I imagine is much harder to spot compared to someone yelling and screaming and tripping over there own feet. When a bar is heavily packed bartenders are mo
  • Next, marketing to alcohol manufacturers.
  • Here are some issues;

    1. No alcohol sensor. The cube will react the same way if one is drinking water or Everclear. All it is doing is counting the number of times the drinks are taken not the strength of the drink.
    2. No idea how much volume is consumed. All it does is count tips and not how fast the liquid is consumed. I have taken 40 sips to drink a pint or one when in a drinking competition.
    3. Not useful for beer drinkers. Few people will put ice in a can of beer.
    4. Does not work with a straw. No tipping

  • This was dumb when I saw it on Hackaday, and it's still dumb. This dude needs therapy and willpower, not electronics.
  • Switch glasses. Idea fails.

  • The Wife (Score:5, Funny)

    by dohzer (867770) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @04:54PM (#42577059) Homepage

    Finally an automated version of my wife at parties: cold and keeping track of my drinking.

  • I can think of a few ways to improve this but amazing idea.

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