As health tracking ideas go, the smart water bottle is a persistent one, but no one has quite managed to pull it off yet, despite numerous attempts that have cropped up on crowdfunding sites and in CES announcements. But now the concept has a big name behind it: PepsiCo brand Gatorade, which showed off a forthcoming smartphone-connected water bottle cap at SXSW on Friday. It works well with Gatorade sport drink too. Gatorade's design is ambitious -- it also includes an adhesive patch that tracks sweat.
The technology has been under development for some time at Gatorade. According to Fox Business, Brazil's national soccer team has been using a version of the system since summer 2014, as have some other professional teams. A glimpse of the technology showed off at the end of a commercial from November 2015. The consumer version is due out in 2017 or 2018.
There appear to be a few different parts to the system. It can help the user manage hydration by tracking how much they drink and lighting up when they need to drink more, as well as sending that data to an app. The cap doesn't just light up based on a timer. It also gathers data from the sweat patch, which tracks sodium loss, according to The Drum.
The bottle will also incorporate "flavor pods" that can be mixed into water as the user drinks. Those will cater to different nutritional or biological needs.
As Jane Sarasohn-Kahn wrote on Health Populi, Gatorade is in good company with two other food brands, Nestle and Dannon, becoming involved in digital health recently. Additionally, Gatorade's entrance into the tech tracking space follows on Under Armour's big bid on connected fitness. Finally, it's the second well-known consumer brand to incorporate a health-tracking patch: L'Oreal announced at CES it would work with MC10 on a patch to track sun exposure.
While it's not entirely clear how much of Gatorade's technology was developed in-house, MC10 is a good bet for the company Gatorade may have licensed its sweat sensor from. Back in 2013, MobiHealthNews noted that MC10 prominently featured three applications for its peel-and-stick sensors on its website: a near-real time hydration tracking patch, a sensor that tracks UV to alert users when to reapply sunscreen, and a wristband that tracks heartrate and activity. None of those applications is prominently featured on the company's site anymore.