Doctors who care not only about human wellness but the economic waste of an inefficient health system riddled with wasted dollars on wrong medication, obesity, substance abuse and substandard medical team reporting, see the quantified self movement not as the enemy but a significant sign of hope.
Devices that can deliver useful information to help make healthier and more informed decisions might turn the corner for some people. The idea is that little by little those daily decisions amount to bigger changes over time. The latest buzz is over a wellness information-connecting smart cup called Vessyl. The cup can tell what you are drinking and how it will affect you—in the form of information about the drink's calories, fat, sugar content, caffeine, and more. (If you drink coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages, for example, Vessyl tracks how much caffeine consumed and how much is too much.)
This is a 13-ounce cup that recognizes any beverage you pour into it, measures the amount and nutritional information, along with a sync of your drinking habits to your smartphone. Their companion app works on iOS and Android devices supporting Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy). The Vessyl was developed to allow users to choose "lenses" they want to track, whether, for example, these are for losing weight, staying hydrated, monitoring caffeine intake, or building muscle. All nutrient data gets updated to the user's mobile device automatically.
A key feature of the cup is fundamental hydration-tracking, estimating how much you need for peak hydration. You can tell if you need more water or not through what the company dubbed Pryme. As Business Insider explained, "You simply tilt the cup to activate the display. That blue light at the top means you're fully hydrated. Throughout the day, that line will fluctuate."
According to the Vessyl team, charging the cup involves placing the Vessyl on a special saucer, which is included with the cup. The saucer plugs into an outlet, and the Vessyl charges. A full charge takes 60 minutes and lasts for five to seven days.
Mark One is the company behind the Vessyl, co-founded by Justin Lee, CEO, who has collaborated with Yves Béhar, the well regarded designer behind Jawbone and the OLPC XO laptop, who is Mark One lead designer. The cup, said Lee, was seven years in the making. Lee said that within the consumer health field, he saw that activity trackers were powerful, but what we consume, he said, beyond just burning calories, is quite important. The company set about developing a sensor that could analyze beverage content. A specialized glass on the interior makes the Vessyl non-stick and easy to clean. Ellis Hamburger of The Verge tried out a prototype and reported that he attempted nearly a dozen beverages in it, and it successfully identified all of them. He said within 10 seconds, the device correctly recognized brands such as Crush for orange soda, Tropicana orange juice, Gatorade Cool Blue, plain water, and other beverages by name.
Among the various features of Vessyl, however, one can say a fundamental advantage is simply that in realtime behavior of daily beverage intake, one cannot fudge the numbers as one might be tempted to do when writing down a diary of what was taken in. As The Verge put it, the big idea behind Vessyl is to provide "transparency." As amounts of drinks are registered automatically, you really get to know how bad or good your beverage-drinking habits are. Shipping is scheduled early 2015. The company is taking pre-orders at a special pre-order price of $99.