Review: DrinKup, track your water intake and stay hydrated

DrinKup Smart Bottle

7.8

Design

8.0/10

Ease of use

8.0/10

Use of information

7.5/10

Motivation

7.5/10

Pros

  • Monitors hydration accurately
  • Smart lid with LED display
  • Long battery life
  • Keep drinks warm or cool
  • Connects with Apple Health & Fitbit

Cons

  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Can only edit history for last 24 hours

 

Drinking water is important – we all know that. If you’re not taking in enough of the liquid, then you should seriously start looking at ways to change this. Your body needs water to properly break down food, eliminate toxic substances, stay healthy and maintain the function of its systems. Drinking enough fluids can also help you lose weight, think better and be in a better mood.

Essential reading: Compare hydration gadgets with our interactive tool

The wait for something that automatically tracks your hydration levels is ongoing. A number of companies, such as LVL Technologies, have been working on hydration tracking wearables – but we have yet to see anything materialize into a real-world product.

Unfortunately, something like 3 out of every 4 Americans are chronically dehydrated. This is very worrying because water is one of the most essential resources to our existence.

I’ve been fortunate enough to test a gadget which aims to help you beat these statistics. DrinKup is a water bottle that comes across as some of the premium steel bottles you can get from the shops. What makes this one different is the smarts.

Design
Features
Overview

View technical specs


Design

review drinkup track your water intake and stay hydrated 4 - Review: DrinKup, track your water intake and stay hydratedThe stainless steel bottle holds 500ml or 17oz of liquid and measures 249mm in height and 73mm in width. It comes in a choice of fun, bright colors including blue, yellow, red and white. I tested the blue one.

The lid is made of aluminum alloy and eco-friendly BPA free materials. Thanks to its 316 double wall vacuum insulated body, the gizmo can keep hot drinks hot for 12 hours and cold drinks cold for 24 hours.

Built into the lid is the touch enabled 5 x 16 LED lattice display. This is actually the only visual clue DrinKup is not your run-of-the-mill water bottle. Everything you need to know can be found there. This includes your progress, reminders (an icon and vibrating alert), battery status and more. The lid will even warn you if your drink is too hot or it’s time to replace the water as it has gone stale.

Just fill the bottle with a water-based liquid and leave the rest to DrinKup. The smart lid works independently of the smartphone app and remembers your intake whenever you take a sip.

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There are no on/off buttons. The bottle turns on automatically and keeps recording until the 400mAh Lithium Polymer Battery runs out of juice. You do have the option to switch it off from the app but unless you’re traveling, there really is no need to do this.

When the battery is running low, the LED will alert you by displaying the battery icon. You can also check the status in the app.

Thankfully, this is not something you’ll be charging every day. The battery is good for at least a month and up to 3 months – depending on use, of course. Charging is done by removing the cap, opening the compartment covered by a rubber band and plugging it into a USB port. When fully charged, simply re-cover the port and twist the lid back into position.

You can actually fill the bottle with any liquid, not just water. Just make sure you do not fill it with acidic drinks, liquids containing salt or hot soups. Coffee, tea, milk and other drinks are fine.

DrinKup says its bottle is washable, but not machine washable. Particular care should be taken when cleaning the smart lid. Run it under a tap but don’t fully submerge it in water. Also make sure all the waterproof parts are in the correct place to prevent water damage.

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Features

Setting up the bottle is a seamless process. Download the accompanying smartphone app, create a log-in and answer a few basic questions (height, weight, age, etc). You’ll then need to pair DrinKup with your smartphone. I found all this took only a couple of minutes. My phone recognized the bluetooth signal straight away and never lost connection in the few weeks I’ve been using it.

The bottle keeps tabs on your intake throughout the day. To start using simply fill with a liquid and screw the cap in place. Place the bottle on a flat surface and its ultrasonic sensors will measure how much water is inside. You do hear a slight whizzing noise for a couple of seconds which is how you know its doing something – presumably sending sound waves and measuring how long it takes them to bounce off the liquid (but that’s just my guess).

Each time you take a sip or pour water into a glass, the smart tech in the lid will do a new assessment of how much is left in the bottle and store the measurement in its memory. As far as I could tell, it was quite accurate at doing this.

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If you want to check your hydration status, simply lift the bottle and tilt the lid. The screen will light up showing how well you’ve been doing for the previous hour (as a percentage). The aim is to keep the number above 80%. At the outset I thought the figure was an indication of how much liquid was left in the bottle – but showing your hydration status makes much more sense.

When you set up your profile in the app you will need to define your daily water intake goal. DrinKup will automatically calculate this for you, but you can also edit the number manually. I was told I should drink 2.6 liters of water per day which seems like a pretty reasonable estimate. This is the number the system uses to calculate your hourly water needs.

When your water balance falls below 80%, DrinKup will remind you automatically and a “heart” icon will appear frequently. Bump the number above 80% and it will disappear.

The lid also vibrates three times when it’s time to take a drink. Its pretty discreet but if you’re in a meeting or just don’t want to be nagged with vibrations, you can switch this off. There’s also a setting which lets you define the time period the bottle will monitor your water intake, for example between 8 am and midnight, and the bottle will be asleep at other times.

There are a couple of nifty features, too. For example, you can view the temperature of the liquid inside the bottle. Simply flip DrinKup upside down for a few seconds until it vibrates and then turn the bottle back upright. The screen will even warn you if the liquid is too hot! If you leave the liquid in the bottle for a couple of days an X will flash on the display. This lets you know the water has gone stale – it’s time to refresh it.

For more detailed stats, head over to the iOS or Android app. This is where you can view the total consumed for the day along with a timeline. Click on the “Hydration chart” to check on your hydration log.

The history tab shows you how well you’ve been hydrated during the past week. Click on any day to view a detailed hydration log for that day.

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Using the app it’s possible to record water that doesn’t get sipped from the bottle. This is definitely a useful add-on as it would simply take too much time to pour all liquids into the bottle before drinking them. Simply select how much you had and the time you took the drink and the app will slot it into your timeline.

Unfortunately you can only add additional drinks for the past 24 hours. It would be useful to extend the functionality so that you can go further back in history and amend the numbers. Perhaps something that might be upgraded via a software update.

The app also allows you to track things like exercise. After all, if you’ve just run 10km on a hot summer day, your liquid intake should be higher.

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The app integrates with Fitbit and Apple Health, but not with Garmin Connect. The far-right screenshot above shows how the hydration info appears in Apple Health. There’s also a friends tab which lets you interact with your loved ones.

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Overview

The verdict

A smart water bottle is probably not a purchase many would consider. But it can serve as an eye-opener into how much (or in my case how little) water you drink throughout the day.

DrinKup is a very well thought out product that takes the hassle out of logging your water intake. It works seamlessly dishing out reminders when it’s time to take a drink and not overloading you with stats. Plus its compatible with popular apps such as Fitbit and Apple Health.

Is it the perfect solution? Probably not. But until someone comes up with something that automatically tracks your hydration levels, it’s probably the next best thing.

DrinKup retails for $69 and comes in a choice of 4 fun colors. You can get it from DrinKup’s website.

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