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Buzz Kill: A Smart Cup That Tracks Everything You Drink

Buzz Kill: A Smart Cup That Tracks Everything You Drink

Courtesy Vessyl

Say you go out after work and have a few too many drinks. The next morning you might pay the price with a nasty hangover. If you’ve been drinking out of a Vessyl smart cup, you’ll also face a detailed record of all the bad stuff you put in your body. Then again, drinking from a Vessyl might stop you from consuming so much in the first place.

The cup, which launched a presale campaign today, knows exactly what you’re drinking, telling you in real time about your intake of calories, sugar, protein, and fat. It also keeps track of how much caffeine you’ve had and will inform you “how much is too much,” according to Mark One, the startup behind this new product.

Mark One’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Justin Lee, came up with the idea for Vessyl seven years ago while studying biomedical computing at Queen’s University in Canada. To develop the product, he enlisted Yves Béhar, the celebrated Swiss-born designer behind Jawbone, the $100 XO “one child per laptop” computer, and Edyn, a newfangled gardening device that keeps track of soil and weather conditions.

The elegant 13-oz. cup, which can be preordered for $99 but will ultimately retail for $199, comes with a lid and a coaster that doubles as a charging device. Lee claims the cup’s molecular sensors accurately measure sugar, protein, calories, fat, and caffeine in any beverage, commercial or homemade. The Verge writer Ellis Hamburger tried it out and reported: “Within 10 seconds, the device…recognized Crush orange soda, Vitamin Water XXX, Tropicana orange juice, Gatorade Cool Blue, plain-old water, and a few other beverages, all by name. Yes, this cup knows the difference between Gatorade Cool Blue and Glacier Freeze.”

Vessyl, which can be synched with a smartphone via Bluetooth, displays consumption information on its side. A bright blue line that appears when the cup is tilted backward indicates the user’s current level of hydration. The company plans to start shipping the device early next year.

This is but the latest of many gadgets catering to health nuts eager to track and analyze everything about their physical existence. The goal is to motivate people to make healthier choices. Not everyone wants to face the facts—one editor here dubbed the cup the Bummer Beer Mug.

Winter is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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