Alexa, the virtual personal assistant who lives inside your Amazon Echo, always seems to be learning new skills. She can hook you up with Domino’s pizza, order your date an Uber, and further prevent you from having to lock eyes with another human. And, thanks to the efforts of a cancer research organization, she can now keep track of how much you drink.
After installing My Alcohol Tracker, Echo owners can set a weekly goal, and ask Alexa to help them stay under that number. (Because the tracker was designed by researchers in the UK, alcohol is measured in units that will be more familiar to anyone who’s read a Bridget Jones book). One unit of alcohol is defined as being 10 milliliters of pure alcohol, so a pint of beer is two units, a large glass of wine is roughly 3.5, and downing the whole bottle because Alexa won’t leave you alone is ten units. The recommended weekly average is 14 units of alcohol or less.
“Hey Alexa,” you’ll say, giving yourself a generous pour. “Ask my alcohol tracker to add 4 units to my total.” And she will. At the end of the week, she’ll tell you what your overall damage was, and she’ll provide either encouragement or offer advice for how you can cut down on your drinking. (Alexa, add “TELL ALEXA TO MIND HER DAMN BUSINESS” to my to-do list.)
The alcohol tracker was designed by Cancer Research UK, as a gentle reminder that alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing seven different types of cancer, including breast, mouth, and colon cancer. “As a charity, we recognize that technology will play a continually important part in helping us to beat cancer sooner,” Michael Docherty, Cancer Research UK’s director of digital, said in a statement. “Alcohol Tracker uses voice recognition technology to help people get a better idea of what they are drinking, as well as providing helpful hints and tips on cutting down.”
The biggest motivation toward cutting back probably isn’t Cancer Research UK’s brightly colored chart showing which body parts might be more prone to cancer—it’s the weekly summary of how many booze calories you’ve downed so far. Even worse, it converts that number to the equivalent number of doughnuts.
Alexa, if you start counting my doughnut consumption too, you can call your own Uber and drive yourself to the closest dumpster.