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A partnership between famed industrial designer Yves Behar and company Mark One are today announcing the Vessyl, smart cup that seeks to track data for the nutrition in beverages. The concept sounds simple. Pour a drink into the sensor-packed Vessyl cup, and an accompanying iPhone application will instantly tell you the type of beverage (like soda or milk), the brand (perhaps Coke or Pepsi), calorie content, fat content, and sugar content…

Sample App Screens

Besides telling you the nutrition for the liquid inside of the cup at any one time, the application and cup can work together to track overall beverage consumption each day as well as how much liquid the body needs to stay hydrated. Above are sample images of the Vessyl iPhone application.


Last week in San Fransisco, I had the opportunity to try out a prototype version of the Vessyl cup and application. I poured a complete can of Sunkist into the prototype cup and the iPhone app immediately told me everything there is to know about the drink. A video about Vessyl shows this process well:

While the prototype worked as advertised, I do not think that the Vessyl is practical in many situations. For instance, there does not seem to be a point or convenience in pouring a canned drink into the cup to seek nutritional data. All canned drinks already have this data (and more) printed on the can’s packaging. The Vessyl does make sense, however, for people who commonly pour drinks out of large bottles. While the interior of the cup has an easily cleanable surface, the cup unfortunately cannot be cleaned like your glassware in your dish washer (at least in the initial version).


Still, the concept of the Vessyl is interesting in light of the recent explosion in both sensor and health/fitness tracking technologies. Vessyl goes on a pre-order sale today for $99 a unit in order to raise $50,000 for production. I am excited to see how consumers respond to this idea and how such a product could integrate with future wearable devices and health tracking software from Apple.

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8 Responses to “This Yves Behar-designed smart cup can tell you about your drink’s nutrition”

  1. myke2241 says:

    cool concept. pricing is way off for something no one has actually tested in the real world.


  2. Hmmm … This would seem to be completely impossible on the face of it, (unless there is an entire chemical testing laboratory hidden inside a fold in space-time inside the cup). Just a few years ago we sent a probe to mars with a chemical lab to do just a few basic tests on the soil and it was the size of a large dog.

    The fact that they don’t actually tell you anything about the technology, and that for it to work as advertised it would represent a quantum leap in sensor technology makes me extremely dubious.

    It’a far more likely that this thing “guesses” a lot based on very limited information like simple density and weight, and so is not really doing what it says it is. It seems like it must have a sensor to detect sugar content, but it has no openings, and therefore cannot “sample” liquids or gasses. How can it even know if a drink is carbonated? How would it tell the difference between “soda” (which no one should ever drink anyway BTW), and carbonated urine? Obviously it cannot.

    I see this thing selling like hotcakes, but science … it is not.


    • mpias3785 says:

      I worked in a lab for many years and I could have told you a lot about a random beverage, but it would have taken hours and the use of various pieces of equipment, some costing more than the average luxury car. It would have been nice to have had a magic cup.

      In all fairness though, there has been some amazing work done on micro sensors in recent years, but I haven’t heard of any commercial devices, much less consumer devices, hitting the market.


      • Yeah, I know sensors have advanced since my example, but the claims are so over the top, and the way they are phrased and presented rings all kinds of alarm bells for me. I think this product will sell very well, but it’s “science” seems on the same order as that app that claimed it could tell you the caloric content of a meal when you take a picture of it.

        I just prefer old fashioned facts and truth to a lot of this slick marketing stuff. I’m sure lots of folks will find this quite invaluable, but it’s kind of unlikely that it’s actually doing what they say it does IMO.


      • mpias3785 says:

        I agree that most of this is marketing magic, but there is a line between marketing and outright BS.

        Right now a device that can quickly give you an accurate sugar content exists, but it weighs about 8 kilos and costs over $10K. I especially like the 93mg of caffeine. The only electrochemical sensor I’ve seen will only read low, medium and high. I suspect you’d need a GC/MS for the kind of accuracy they displayed.

        Even if they do have some amazing new sensors installed, they degrade over time and usually require very careful cleaning. Unless the sensors can be replaced, this is going to wind up one seriously expensive disposable cup.


  3. mpias3785 says:

    Interesting from a technological point of view. I’d like to find out more about the sensor technology, the range of compounds it can detect, which liquids to avoid, the accuracy of the measurements and the longevity of the sensors.

    Can the sensors be replaced once they begin to deteriorate? How is the calibration tested and adjusted?

    While it sounds like a potentially useful idea, I have to say that I’m skeptical about its accuracy and longevity.


  4. herb02135go says:

    I’m skeptical and wonder why anyone would need this, unless they are mixing their own drinks and want to know specific information.

    What is it they say about a fool and his money?


  5. drtyrell969 says:

    What’s that smell? Oh yeah, innovation.