Noah J Nelson on Friday, Jun. 13th
You might have heard of Vessyl this week, it’s a new smart-device that’s taking pre-orders. This isn’t a wristband health monitor or a thermostat however. Vessyl is a cup.
That something so mundane is being endowed with sensors is throwing the more cynical corners of the Internet into fits. If all you bother to read are Facebook comments you’ll walk away with the impression that Vessyl is a cup that tells you what’s inside. In case, you know, you forgot what you just poured into it.
That the device can pick out which brand of soda is inside it is a near parlor trick, but if the underlying technology works as advertised it has a hell of a lot of potential. I can tell from the quick dismissals of the tech that the peanut gallery either hasn’t struggled with weight loss or doesn’t bother to try.
Vessyl’s maker, Justin Lee, claims that the device is able to read the chemical composition of the liquid—hot or cold, thin or thick—that is inside the cup. It can breakdown protein, fat, and sugar content. It even handles caffeine. In other words it can help tell you what is going into your body as automatically as a Bodybugg or other fitness tracker can tell what your body is putting out.
As someone who has used fitness trackers in the past I can tell you that leveraging that data against estimations of my caloric intake was a pain in the ass. A false sense of security crept in over and over, only to be slapped down by real world results. If I knew what was actually going in, however, those attempts might have had a fighting chance.
As things stand the molecular sensing technology is just in the cup, but Lee is playing coy with the press as Wired’s Kyle Vanhemert shows:
When I ask Lee if Vessyl’s sensing technology could ever work with something like, say, a knife and fork, he only smiles and says that his company has already envisioned an aggressive roadmap of products.
Not that we need to jump to conclusions that this is some kind of magic bullet. As Vanhemert points out we’re talking just about a cup, a cup you’d have to rinse out all the time and take with you everywhere you go to have the greatest impact.
That could make for a difficult habit form, although there are some beneficial side effects. After all, if you’re always drinking from the one cup you’re not creating a bunch of landfill waste with every Starbucks visit.
(If you’d like to see the comments that inspired this post drop by Wired and Valleywag).