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Smart Lid silently screams, 'Hot coffee!'

The Smart Lid turns bright red when it's capping a hot cup of joe. The disposable topper features a color-changing additive designed to warn you about the fiery lake of java below.

Smart Lid cool and hot
Pop quiz! Which of these cups is safe to drink from? Smart Lid Systems

The last time I went to jury duty, the prosecuting attorney spent a good deal of time talking about one of Albuquerque's most famous lawsuits: the McDonald's hot coffee spill that resulted in a $640,000 award to the elderly woman who was burned.

That's an extreme example of a hot-coffee problem. Most of us just fry our tongues or desperately blow steam out of our mouths. The Smart Lid is looking to save us from our own eagerness.

The disposable Smart Lid changes colors when it's sitting on top of a hot cup of joe. If your cup is topped with bright red, you should chill out for a few minutes before you go in for a sip of that sweet caffeinated nectar of life.

The lid has the added advantage of plainly showing when it is sealed properly on the cup. The lip will stay the old color when attached correctly. That should help prevent the accidental dumping of 12 ounces of burning liquid all over your white hot pants.

The color-changing additive mixed into the plastic lids could be handy for other uses, like lap-sizzling notebook computers or steering wheels in the summer.

Smart Lid Systems is developing more color combinations to fit corporate branding demands. Sample packs are available to curious baristas for $8.95, but the company is still working on ramping up to large-scale production.

One of our sister sites, ZDNet's SmartPlanet, has a hands-on look at the lid. Check it out below.