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iPhone App Tells Best and Worst Times for Coffee

Caffeine Zone screen shot (Applied Cognitive Systems)

Caffeine Zone screen shot (Applied Cognitive Systems)

Computer scientists at Pennsylvania State University in University Park have devised an iPhone application that tells the best time for coffee to get a mental kick, and when caffeine can ruin your sleep. Frank Ritter, who is on the IT, psychology, and computer science faculties at Penn State and Kuo-Chuan (Martin) Yeh, computer science and engineering professor, presented a preview of the app last summer at the 2011 Augmented Cognition International Conference in Orlando.

Maintaining proper caffeine balance is important for many workers, such as those on graveyard shifts or submariners who often work and sleep at different times of the day and night. Taking too much caffeine at once can also result in bodily reactions such as nervousness, nausea, or loss of sleep.

The researchers derived data from peer-reviewed studies to construct a model to determine the times caffeine drinkers enter an optimal zone for mental alertness, with between 200 and 400 milligrams of caffeine in their bloodstream. For sleep, Ritter and Yeh set a lower threshold, where caffeinated drinks may cause sleep problems if caffeine levels exceed 100 milligrams.

Using these data, the Yeh wrote software for the Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch with operating system 3.1.1 or later, to demonstrate the pharmacokinetics of caffeine and gauge the impact of an individual’s caffeine intake. Users enter information on the amount of caffeine they drank, or plan to drink — or chewed, in the case of caffeinated gum — and when they plan to have a caffeinated beverage. The software also accepts input on the time it takes to drink the beverage.

The app then presents the optimal “caffeine zone” in chart form. The software likewise tells when the user is agile and alert, or likely to be sleepy.

The app may be downloaded from Apple’s iTunes App Store, in either a free version with advertising, or paid version ($0.99) without ads.

Read more: Wearable Device Captures Food Intake, Lifestyle Patterns

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