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MIT Student Invents LED Ice Cubes to Track Alcohol Intake

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An MIT grad student is turning a bad party night into a product with potential.

It was fall semester last year when 23-year-old Dhairya Dand decided to hit up a party at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Several hours later, he found himself in the hospital.  He’d had an alcohol-induced blackout.

From the hospital room, Dand went back to MIT’s Media Lab, where he’s a researcher, and spent the next three weeks inventing Cheers -- alcohol-aware ice cubes that glow and groove to ambient music.  More importantly, the ice cubes change colors if you’ve had a few too many. 

When he presented the idea to his friends, they weren’t so cool on the idea.

“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,” said Dand.  “That’s normal.  With every new thing there is resistance.”

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.  The cubes can even send a text message to friends if the person drinking needs help.

“The cubes talk to your phone to make the call.  They communicate over IR [infrared] with a custom removable IR receiver fitted on the smartphone’s audio jack,” said Dand.

Since he came out with his invention, Dand said, “Everyone wants a dozen now!”  And since he only spent $50 plus his own time creating it, Dand may have an idea that’s budget-friendly for grad students.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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