Hidrate water bottle lights up when it's time to sip

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The Hidrate bottle is available for preorder on Kickstarter(Credit: Hidrate)

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You can own water bottles in every shape, size, material and design aesthetic you want, but unless you're actually drinking water out of them, they're useless. The new HidrateMe bottle ensures that you keep drinking by keeping the proverbial light bulb lit. It tracks your water intake via an accompanying app and illuminates when it's time for you to hydrate.

Water bottles are one of life's simplest contraptions, built to satisfy one of our most primary needs. Like everything else, though, they're getting smarter. The HidrateMe bottle (which shall henceforth be referred to simply as "Hidrate bottle" because HidrateMe sounds infantile) isn't the first stab at a smart bottle we've seen. In the past, we've looked at the smartphone-connected BluFit Bottle, and we know there are a few other smart bottles and hydration trackers floating around out there.

Nadya Nguyen thought up the idea for the Hidrate bottle and reached out to fellow University of Minnesota students for help in bringing it to life last September. Nguyen and her team developed the first working prototype in 54 hours during the Google-supported Startup Weekend in Minneapolis. The team took third place at the event, and since then, it has rapidly refined the design into a marketable product with the help of the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator program. It is now offering the bottle on Kickstarter.

The Hidrate bottle might just be the prettiest smart bottle out there, and pretty does seem to sell water bottles. Its BPA-free Tritan body has a subtle hourglass curvature, triangular overlay and translucent color that give it an interesting look. The design also appears to offer a solid, ergonomic grip, though we can't confirm that without holding it. It's the type of design that is sure to pop on a shelf of dozens of water bottles, and we're betting Hidrate would sell a few even without any smart features.

The real selling point behind the Hidrate bottle is its app-supported hydration-tracking technology. The app, which will be a free download available on Android and iOS devices, provides a daily drinking goal based on information about your height, weight, gender, age and activity level. The app syncs up with the water bottle's integrated water-level sensor via Bluetooth and actively tracks your water intake. When you're running behind schedule, LEDs inside the bottle's electrical module light up, providing a visual prompt directly from the bottle.

The app itself shows a more detailed analysis of your daily hydration. It can also pull in location-based temperature, humidity and elevation data to adjust your daily hydration goals and will be able to integrate with fitness trackers like those from Fitbit and Jawbone.

The 24-oz (710-ml) Hidrate bottle is dishwasher-safe. It includes a leak-free flip cap and easy-pour mouthpiece. Estimated battery life for the replaceable battery is over one year.

Smart water bottles are one of those things that make us step back from our enthusiastic coverage of all things tech and think, "Does that really need to be smart?". The market will ultimately decide, but I'm as cynical about connected everyday objects as anyone, and I feel that such a bottle could be useful. I work at home, steps from my refrigerator and sink, and there are plenty of days on which I'll realize it's 4 pm and I haven't taken a sip of anything but coffee all day. Sometimes I even start to feel the signs of dehydration sneaking up when I have a full glass of water sitting right next to me on my desk.

It was from similar personal experience that Nguyen came up with the Hidrate idea. She spent the whole day doing volunteer work and didn't even think about drinking water until the ride home. She realized it would be great to have a way of tracking hydration and reminding oneself to drink.

What we like about the Hidrate (and the BluFit before it) is that it removes the middle man. Instead of relying solely on the app for hydration tracking and alerts, the bottle itself delivers the reminder. It's a simple answer to a simple problem. Because if you can't remember to sip, you surely won't remember to check your hydration statistics on your phone multiple times a day. The Hidrate bottle provides a much more direct reminder.

It would seem that the Kickstarter community agrees. After going live just this past Monday, the Hidrate bottle campaign has already surpassed its goal, earning more than US$84,000. The $39 pledge level is sold out, but you can still secure a Hidrate bottle at the $45 level. Hidrate plans to get deliveries started in December, assuming everything goes according to plan.

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