I’m forgetful. I forget appointments and hence have a calendar. I forget medication and hence have alarms to tell me when to take them. Water is arguably as important as meds – wouldn’t it make sense to have this on a schedule as well? With everything getting smart is it really a surprise that there’s now a smart water bottle?

The Hidrate Spark is a bottle that records how much water goes into it and how much gets drunk. It then uses an LED light and notifications on your phone to remind you to drink when you forget. That’s the simple version. For the more metric centered, there’s also an app. The app has recorded the details of your age and size and adds to that the temperature (worked out via location) and your activity level – grabbed from either wearables or the phone’s movement tracker. There’s also an option to manually log exercise. The app then sets a recommended target and guides you towards that specific amount to drink. A quiet cool day and you’ll get a smaller target than you would on a hot exercise heavy day.

The principle makes sense, but the actual execution isn’t perfect.  After you take a sip, you need to have the bottle down on a flat non-moving surface for 10 seconds or so for it to register. Don’t do this – and it’s impossible in a moving car for example – and the water often doesn’t get added to your totals. You can add it in manually via the app, but that rather defeats the object! The LED is easy to miss, the design of the bottle isn’t quite right and all the little flaws make it work to track how much I drink. Just picking up the bottle when I’m thirsty quickly became the more convenient option.

The Hidrate Spark 2.0 has a great principle behind it, but its execution didn’t quite work for me. That said, the Tritan plastic bottle without the app quickly became my favorite everyday bottle. It’s beautifully made, ergonomically designed and the flip-top lid is brilliant. The skin has started to peel after a few weeks, but I still enjoy using it.

It’s a shame that the end product doesn’t quite come off. The bottle is beautiful, but the app integration didn’t impress. I think it would do better without the app – it certainly did for me – but then the price tag becomes grossly disproportionate to the product offered. I want to love the Hidrate Spark 2.0, but it feels over-engineered for the job it’s made to perform and its execution isn’t flawless. Wait for a smoother product or reduction in price.

Buy it from Hidrate 

Price: ± $54.95 or around £44.

Features

The Hidrate Spark 2.0 is a package made up of three parts – the water bottle, the sensor/LED and the app.

The water bottle is a surprisingly thin and tall cylinder with a series of flat shapes pressed into it. This gives it a slight neck around its middle which makes it comfortable to hold and mitigates somewhat from the somewhat slidey plastic. The screw on lid is removable and has an integrated spring flip top which reveals a 2cm wide oval sippy drinking point. The lid is also embossed with flat surfaces which maddeningly didn’t quite match up with the embossing on the main bottle. Finally, there is a finger hoop to give you a better grip or to hang the bottle. There are a number of different colors available and the whole bottle is covered in a skin that’s designed to make it a little more grippy. Unfortunately, after a few weeks use the skin has started to peel in a couple of places on my bottle. The bottle is dishwasher safe.

The sensor and LED is a plastic stick that attaches to the bottom of the lid and sits inside the bottle going almost to the base. It’s removable to allow for cleaning and on a day to day basis you forget that it’s there unless it’s lighting up. The LEDs can pulse in a number of patterns and in a range of colors for up to three minutes to remind you to drink but I quickly found that I needed to set them to go for as long as possible to increase my chances of seeing it.

The app is full featured and lets you look at your consumption that day or over a week or month. It also lets you add water that you’ve drunk elsewhere to your totals and connect to fitness trackers.

Geo-recording. The app records the last place it saw the bottle which could be very useful if you lose your bottle

Syncs with Apple Health Kit, Google Fit, Jawbone Up, Under Armor (including MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness).

Specification

Product dimensions (Cylinder): 25.5 x 7 cm
Capacity: 710ml
Item Weight including sensor stick (empty): 209g
Item Weight including sensor stick (full): 947g
Colour: Teal, White, Black, Purple, Green and Pink
Release date: 2016
Made in the USA
Materials: BPA-Free Tritan plastic
Battery: Two removable and non-rechargeable CR2032 watch batteries which Hidrate claims last around 6 months

Apps: Android 5.0 and upwards and iOS 8.3 and upwards communicating via Bluetooth LE

Warranty: Free from defects in materials and workmanship for 60 days from the date of delivery.

Requirements

The Spark syncs with your smartphone to record your water consumption but it’s not got to be right there the whole time. There’s sufficient onboard memory to store a couple of days of data so to be safe you need to have your water bottle and phone in the same room at least once a day. If both are part of your regular daily routine this shouldn’t be a big problem. The Spark is also designed for water only although there are some hints that it does work with some other liquids at the risk of shortening the lifespan of the sensor and reducing accuracy.

About Hidrate

Hidrate the company was started almost by accident by a group of University of Minnesota students. The built the first prototype in a Google Startup weekend and the product was so well received (despite not winning) that they thought they had something special and spent the next year developing it into a real product that launched on Kickstarter.

The review is based on a white Hidrate Spark 2.0 kindly provided by Hidrate during March 2017. This article was first published on the 28 March 2017 and last updated on 2 October 2017.