4-Aminobipyridine derivatives form strong inclusion complexes with cucurbituril, exhibiting remarkably large enhancements in fluorescence intensity and quantum yields. The remarkable complexation-induced pK(a) shift (DeltapK(a)=3.3) highlights the strong charge-dipole interaction upon binding. The reversible binding phenomenon can be used for the design of switchable beacons that can be incorporated into cascades of binding networks. This concept is demonstrated herein by three different applications: 1) a switchable fluorescent beacon for chemical sensing of transition metals and other ligands; 2) direct measurement of binding constants between cucurbituril and various nonfluorescent guest molecules; and 3) quantitative monitoring of biocatalytic reactions and determination of their kinetic parameters. The latter application is illustrated by the hydrolysis of an amide catalyzed by penicillin G acylase and by the elimination reaction of a beta-cabamoyloxy ketone catalyzed by aldolase antibody 38C2.