Don’t drink enough H2O? Add a smart drinking cup from China to your array of digitally connected home products to stay healthy
Smart water cups that monitor the user’s health have joined a growing list of intelligent home products, from water purifiers and thermostats to locks and colour-changing LEDs, aimed at improving people’s lives in the digital age.
Shenzhen-based iPinto Technology was co-founded by Hong Kong University of Science Technology graduate Cindy Chen, who maintains that collecting and applying data is one of the keys to improving the public’s health.
The company’s Waterever cups prompt users to drink water regularly while also recording their habits through an app that can be used to monitor their hydration and health.
Chen, a graduate of HKUST’s executive MBA programme, says that unlike its competitors Waterever was not designed as a standalone product.
“Our cups are a tool to give us data, and our company’s expertise is to use this data to help people,” she said.
The company recently cooperated with Pacific Coffee, a Hong Kong-based chain that also has outlets in China and Malaysia, to design a smart coffee cup.
Users of Wateverer cups input their vital statistics and activity levels to stay well hydrated. Parents can use it to monitor the amount drunk by their young kids, while carers can send prompts via the app urging the elderly to take a sip.
The product, inspired by Chen’s love of sport, went on sale in China four months ago for 429 yuan (US$67.50) after 11 months’ development.
More competitors are in the pipeline, especially from the US. One of these, Vessyl, is set to ship at the end of this year. It can gauge what kind of liquid is being consumed and even tell the user how strong the coffee is they are about to drink.
Smart products like these fall under the internet of things umbrella. This refers to technology that communicates with other home-based or other gadgets using in-built sensors to collect data, without the need for human intervention.
The next two generations of Chen’s Waterever cup are already in development, she said.
The second generation will be able to filter water to improve its taste, while the follow-up will measure the sugar content of beverages to help people who suffer from diabetes.
In addition to drinking cups, Ipinto has developed an analytical tool that measures people’s body fat, and a smart medicine container for the elderly.
Professor Xu Yan, director of the HKUST EMBA programme. said the university had supplemented its traditional accounting and human resources courses with classes on innovation in recent years.
"Nowadays, for all the entrepreneurs, innovation and entrepreneurship is a very important part of it, so that is why we enhanced those elements,” Xu said.
“We offer a course in innovation management, and when we take them to Silicon Valley … we actually emphasise innovation and creativity, like design thinking, artificial intelligence, virtual reality."