If you make frequent trips to Second Cup or Starbucks, you know how it feels to lay awake in bed wishing you had passed on that last cup of coffee. Too much caffeine can leave you feeling anxious and restless at a time when all you want to do is sleep. So, how much coffee is enough to keep a caffeine addict fueled, and how much is too much? Penn State researchers have created an app designed to answer just that question.
Caffeine Zone is an app that uses data from pharmacokinetics models to show the level of caffeine in a person’s body in real-time. Every time the user drinks, for example, a cup of tea, they log in the amount of beverage and the time it took them to drink it. In turn, the app generates a line graph that displays a 24-hour progression of the level of caffeine in your bloodstream after consumption. The graph also shows the optimal range of caffeine to maintain so you know exactly when to refuel.
The app is based on research that examined the potentially mitigating effects of caffeine on stress-levels. Penn State scientist Frank Ritter, a developer of the app, owns the small company that produces it. Ritter was involved with the research on caffeine and stress, and the idea for the app came from his difficulty in trying to model the impacts of caffeine on cognition.
After two years of working on the project, and a few prototypes, Caffeine Zone is now available both as a paid and free app (which has ads) through the Apple App Store. The small amount of money generated by the app goes to Ritter’s company and is used to improve the app, to cover accountant and business costs, as well as to help pay for new machines for testing. He hopes Caffeine Zone will help people to get the most out of their yummy stimulant beverages by managing their consumption more wisely. “I know that I drink more tea and more decaf and more slowly than I used to,” says Ritter.