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Vessyl, a connected cup that’s too good to be true?

For $99 you can pre-order a Yves Behar-designed connected cup that will not only track how much you drink, but also what’s in your drink. After the pre-order period ends, the cup will retail for $199. The cup is pricey, but cool, and as someone who was excited about a connected water bottle and promise of passive data collection, the Vessyl has a lot to like about it.

But I don’t know if I buy the idea of some new set of sensors embedded in the cup that’s able to understand what I’m drinking. In a Skyped video interview with Justin Lee, the CEO of Mark One, the San Francisco company behind the Vessyl, I asked about the liquid-identifying sensors, since that’s obviously the most interesting part of the cup. He didn’t give details beyond saying that the cup has a variety of sensors analyzing liquids. He then offered to let me choose from a wide array of beverages on a table nearby to pour into the cup as a means of testing it.

Since I’m a fan of cocktails, I asked about mixed drinks, but Lee told me the cup couldn’t do mixed drinks yet. Based on this and his general caginess about how the sensor worked my hunch is the sensor doesn’t know what you are drinking as much as it is linking a set of established parameters to a specific drink. Once it has the specific beverage, it can calculate volume and give you calories and the nutritional content pre-programmed for that liquid.

It’s a smart way to do things, but that does mean it has limits such as no information on mixed drinks so far. It also means that if a liquid isn’t in the database, the cup wouldn’t know what it is. However, judging by the wide array of beverages set out for our demo, the cup could handle most anything pre-packaged that one might want to throw at it.

Since I mostly drink water, coffee and cocktails the 13-ounce cup doesn’t appeal to me, but it’s exactly the sort of high-end, well-designed product that will no doubt get the ThinkGeek, early-adopter set excited about shelling one or two hundred dollars in the quest to quantify all of the things. If the cup could analyze for popular allergens or even toxins (and it might) it could have a lot of promise for a wider audience. Maybe after it hits the real world in early 2015 we can break it down and see what all it can and can’t do.

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