June 12, 2014

Drink tracking with Vessyl might be my cup of tea

Finally: A cup that tells you what you're drinking.
The cup's a pretty useful tool for delivering beverages to parched tongues everywhere. But let's face it, in today's world of ubiquitous technology, it has a pretty major shortcoming. It needs a battery, because no idea's so good that it can't be improved by some lithium-ion.

It turns out a San Francisco startup's been hard at work solving that problem.

A company known as Mark One unwrapped a pre-sale promotion today for a new powered cup it's calling the Vessyl. The thing's more than just a drinking device that uses electricity, of course. It can identify what you drink, track it and send the data to your smartphone.

Mark One seems to be branding it largely for dieters and the health-conscious right now. Many of us don't notice the calories we consume in beverages, it argues. The Vessyl will help us do that.

The device will actually be pretty interesting if it lives up to its billing. Supposedly it can break down the calories you're drinking by type, identifying sugar, fat, protein and the like. It can also measure things like caffeine, and its sensors are claimed to be picky enough to tell the difference between beverage brands like Coke and Pepsi.

Beyond that, the cup can estimate how hydrated you are, according to Mark One. It can connect to your Android or iPhone via Bluetooth to track your consumption and give you feedback on health goals.

Oh, and the cup body has its own "discreet screen." Other features include a spill-proof lid and non-stick interior.

Charging doesn't even require fumbling with a Micro USB connection. You just have to set the cup down on its "charging coaster" for 60 minutes, then the battery lasts an estimated five to seven days.

I'm no health nut. How could I be, blogging about fast food and over-the-counter snacks? Yet the Vessyl is strangely attractive to me. Maybe it's the idea of drinking out of an electrified container, adding a pinch of excitement to life. Maybe I'm more interested in tracking daily activities than I realized. I do use a run-tracking app.

Or maybe something like this would make life easier for food reviews. No more being embarrassed by failing in blind beverage taste tests! No more looking up nutritional information on the side of the bottle!

Right now the Vessyl is up for pre-order for $99, a hundred bucks cheaper than its retail price. The cup's makers are trying to pre-sell $50,000 worth of Vessyls  before starting production and shipping early in 2015. Colors listed include "Shadow," "Snow" and "Steam."

The 13 oz. cup comes in "Shadow," "Snow" and "Steam" colors. I'm holding out for a 20 oz. version in "Eggshell."

I might be willing to throw my money in for an early copy, except I'm a little worried about the Vessyl's size. It's listed as holding 13 oz., which would be 7 oz. smaller than the current metal water bottle I refill during the day. A 13 oz. cup would be fine for coffee, but the idea here is you use the Vessyl for all drinking. How about a larger option?

No matter its size, this cup holds my attention in a big way. What can we stick a battery in next?

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