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 at it’s simplest level a bottle that records how much water goes into it and how much gets drunk. It then uses it’s LED light and notifications on your phone to remind you to drink.
That’s the simple version. The more complicated version is in how it reminds you how much to drink. The app takes details of your age and size, adds it to temperature (worked out via location) and then integrates with wearables or the on phone movement tracker. Add in your own assessment of how much exercise you do that isn’t tracked and it recommends and guides you towards a specific amount to drink. A quiet cool day and you’ll get smaller target and a hot exercise laiden day ups what it pushes you towards.
This extra information is there if you want it but if you don’t the lights are the only thing to pay attention to. So how well does it work? The principle makes sense but the actual execution isn’t perfect. After you take a drink 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!
Price: ± $54.95 or around £44.
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 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 it’s 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 ebossed 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 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 removeable 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 minuites 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
- Friends leader boards
- Syncs with Apple Health Kit, Google Fit, Jawbone Up, Under Armor (including MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness).
- Bottle is dishwasher safe
Environment & People
The Spark 2.0 is an expensive water bottle compared to many at around £45 but if you can integrate it with your daily routine properly it’s going to be the only water bottle you want to use. If it can get you into a good habit that cost might well be worth it.
Product dimensions (Cylinder): 25.5 x 7 cm
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 date of delivery.
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.
The Hidrate Spark 2.0 has a great principle behind it. Take something that most people just don’t do enough of – drinking water and make the most difficult part – remembering to drink – much more simple. Hidrate have come out with a product the reminds you and works out how much you should be drinking and records that.
It’s a shame that the end product doesn’t quite come off – the LED is too easy to miss, especially if you’re on the go and the design of the bottle isn’t quite right. If you’re someone who wants to put the time and effort in to drinking enough or really care about knowing exactly how much you’re drank the Spark might well work for you but it probably won’t make most people happy.
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 28th March 2017.