Smart Mug Displays Temperature, Yay or Nay?

I was browsing through my feeds yesterday morning and found this Kickstarter project that kinda turned me onto the idea of assistive tableware. Imagine plates that tell you to stop eating because you’re fat, or a rice bowl that flashes red whenever you inadvertently stick your chopsticks upright – total faux pas. The Smart Mug displays the current liquid temperature via a series of LED lights.

At first glance, I thought the idea was brilliant. Why? I drink a lot of teas and the most common categories of teas (black, red, white, green, floral) all brew and steep at different temperatures. Take for example white teas. Their delicate leaves scald and go bitter if you pour boiling water over them. Most tea houses use very hot water to brew white teas. Smart Mug helps you know when the optimal temperature has been reached.

I immediately tweeted about it but already received quite a few tweetbacks about how unattractive the design was. Some felt the LED lights looked cheap and the mug itself was aesthetically boring. Others felt there were better solutions. To that end, I’d agree. What do you guys think?

Designer: Evita Krumina, Kickstarter


  • John says:

    The design is a little ugly. The idea is a great one though. I drink a lot of coffee and tea in varying forms and knowing the right temperature for the water makes a big difference in the quality of the brew.

    Maybe they should make a cafetiére and a teapot along the same lines then I would definitely be in for one.

  • Chris Reed says:

    The notification of the temperature should be a ring around the bottom, just above where the base of the cup meets the walls. That way you can just use a temperature sensitive material and no LEDs.

  • Steve says:

    Unbelievably unnecessary design. Has the designer never even heard of thermochromic ink, the kind used in fish tank thermometers?

  • Long Tran says:

    Very good point Steve.

  • Mill says:

    Why can’t a cup be just a cup? All of these useless information, involving electricity… When you have a cofee or a tea, does it really matter to know the temperature? Or you just taste it, and if it’s too hot you wait a bit, or blow or whatever… ?

    Steve said a more intelligent sollution, with thermochromic ink, if you really die to have an idea about the temperature.

  • Morgan Ahoff says:

    Why is it a mug? When I make green tea, I boil the water in a kettle, pour it into a vessel to cool it to the correct temperature, then pour it into a tea pot for steeping. In the vessel is where I need to know the temperature, so I can pour it on the tea once it has cooled sufficiently. It doesn’t matter the temperature in the cup.

    Oh, also I prefer drinking tea from handle-less tea cups. I drink coffee from a mug. I don’t like the idea of being restricted to a single mug, when I like to choose my tea cup based on my mood, or the occasion, or the guest I’m serving. It makes more sense to put the temperature sensor in the tool for preparing tea, rather than the tool for drinking tea.

  • Shil says:

    The Smart Mug is a great idea – prevents scalds.

  • mchelle goodall says:

    When and where can I purchase some of these?

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