In a world seemingly obsessed with “smart” technology and health tracking, biomedical computer science student Justin Lee has taken a different approach to innovation, by “[putting] a computer into one of the most ubiquitous objects in human history”: A cup. Lee, and designer partner Yves Béhar, (the man behind JAMBOX speakers), have spent the last seven years creating ‘Vessyl’. A modern take on a conventional essential, Vessyl knows exactly what you’re drinking and exactly what’s in it. But isn’t all that information already on the back of the bottle?
Well, that’s where the “smart” part comes in. Although calorie content is annoyingly accessible for most shop bought beverages, Vessyl’s capabilities go a lot further. It can detect the nutritional information of homemade products like smoothies, as well as how strong or weak your coffee is, rather than just pulling in information from an internet database. Gone are the arduous long lists and specifically-typed product names, and in its place: self-detecting Vessyl. So accurate that it can distinguish between whether Tropicana orange juices are with or without pulp, as well as between Gatorade Cool Blue and Glacier Freeze. In fact, we are yet to find a drink that Vessyl can’t accurately identify, most probably due to Lee’s extensive collection of data: “We’ve gotten a few weird looks at Safeway”.
Vessyl hopes to clarify popular misunderstandings about health and hydration, such as the idea that all fruit juices are good, or the unintentional weight gain that occurs from passive, uninformed beverage consumption. Therefore, you can also sync Vessyl with your fitness tracker app, which is personalised according to your height, weight and goals. For example, different lens’ interpret your data based on whether you want to lose weight, build muscle or sleep better, and how each drink affects these goals can be recalled to you on your Vessyl. Your hydration level is also presented when you tilt the cup, which will help maintain a good mood and energy levels.
The app further enhances the usability of Vessyl, which has caused some doubts being just one singular container. But with the app, not only can you get a detailed analysis of your daily statistics, but you can log that can of coke you had at lunch, and the one (ok, two) glasses of wine you drank after work, so your data stays accurate and you don’t have to take your Vessyl everywhere you go. Although Vessyl would certainly aid us in keeping an eye on our daily health, one thing it would fail to monitor (as do we) is our nights out. The biggest downfall of most people looking to lose weight, unless you take your Vessyl with you, calorific, sugary cocktails from the bar are going to be left out of the hydration equation. But if you do.. the lid is spill-proof (with has eight colours to choose from), the interior is non-stick and its exterior can withstand both hot drinks and the freezer. It’s sleek, 13-ounce design fits in at the office or at the gym, and charges wirelessly through a coaster-like stand with just 60 minutes charge lasting 5-7 days.
Lee is staying tight-lipped about the intriguing technology behind it all, revealing only that it uses a complex set of sensors to analyse liquids on a molecular level. But if it really can do what it promises, then Vessyl could become indispensable.