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Time for a coffee break? Check your app

Time for a coffee break? Check your app

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Feeling like a coffee fix? This app tells you when its time for a break by monitoring caffeine levels.

Have a particularly busy day at work lined up? Is it time for a morning coffee?

If you're wondering whether you had one too many cups of coffee or tea today, a new application available on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad can help you keep check of how much caffeine has entered your system -- and whether you can get away with that sneaky espresso without risking the coffee shakes or staying up all night.

The developers, Applied Cognitive Systems from Pennsylvania State University, designed the app in order to 'help consumers learn to use caffeine products more wisely'. It is aimed to determine when a jolt of caffeine can give people a mental boost, and when turning to that last cup may hurt your sleeping patterns.

The app shows the approximate amount of caffeine in your system based on a research-devised digital model, and produces a graph on how the varying levels may affect a user over time. One of the researchers, Frank Ritter, professor of information sciences and technology, psychology, and computer science and engineering said:

"Many people don't understand how caffeine levels in their bloodstream go up and how they go down. It's important to understand the effect that caffeine can have at these various levels."

Peer-reviewed studies were used as the basis of what levels of caffeine produce which effects. The team came to the conclusion that between 200 and 400 milligrams of caffeine within a bloodstream is the 'optimal' level for mental alertness. However, if drinkers have more than 100 milligrams in their system, sleep is likely to affected.

Users of the app must do some legwork to monitor caffeine levels correctly. You need to input how much caffeine you have consumed, details on what you plan to drink next if it contains caffeine, and potentially how quickly you plan to drink it. Through this data, the app can then advise you on whether that next cup of coffee is a good idea -- when you should have it, and how much.

The app is currently compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad -- iOS 3.0 or later. The free version is supported with advertising. The current reviews state that a bug can cause the application to crash occasionally when inputting a custom value -- and the team hope to fix this as rapidly as possible.

Download Caffeine Zone here.

Image credit: Screenshot C.Osborne/SmartPlanet

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure