EQUA Smart Water Bottle: a hydration habit builder that glows when its time to drink
If you are not taking in enough water then you should seriously start looking at ways to increase your daily intake. Especially if you are more prone to reach for a cup of coffee instead. To help people build better hydration habits, the EQUA Smart Water Bottle uses light to remind us to drink more water while keeping tabs on our progress.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
The bottle comes from a Slovenian-based outfit with the same name. They turned to Kickstarter in May last year to raise funds to make their product idea into reality. The company already had two successful Kickstarter campaigns under its belt, including the GOAT mug and GINA smart coffee instrument.
Their latest campaign was also successful, managing to raise nearly a quarter of a million dollars in the process. The 2,772 backers have received their EQUA Smart Water Bottle by now and the gadget has been made available for purchase to all on the company’s website and Amazon.
Many people underestimate the importance of staying hydrated, so don’t be one of them. You need water to eliminate toxic substances, stay healthy and maintain the function of every system in your body. Drinking enough fluids can also help you lose weight, think better and be in a better mood.
A gadget that encourages you to drink more water, sets your daily goals and tracks your intake? Sounds useful. But how well does it work? Read on to find out what I’ve made of it.
Setup and using EQUA
Interpreting the results and accuracy
Out of the box, the EQUA bottle is a thing of beauty. You’d imagine Apple’s design team coming up with something that looks this good. It simply oozes class and sophistication.
The bottle is made of high-quality stainless steel with a satin finish. Both the leakproof cap and handle are made of electroplated metal. There’s a silicone pad at the bottom to prevent slips and slides.
The Kickstarter campaign delivered three colour options including Snow White, Dark Gray and Pink Blush. This was followed by two additional iterations, dubbed Mrs. Glossy and Mr. Matt. As you can see from the pics, I opted for the Snow White version.
The original EQUA Smart designs all have a real marble top. This adds to the visual appeal. The subsequent two designs come with a more regular looking metal cap.
There’s an optional clip-on you can attach to the top for carrying the bottle around. And while this is a nice design element which has some practical purposes, I preferred to use EQUA without it. It also does not look sturdy enough to use for prolonged periods.
The bottle is designed to hold 23 ounces or 680 millilitres of liquid. When empty, it weights around 470 grams.
Now you can’t just pour anything inside. For example, it is not advisable to use it to hold carbonated drinks. The CO2 gas can create pressure and, in some cases even cause the bottle to explode! Best not to risk it.
This is partly due to the double wall insulation which is an important design element. It helps to keep water cold for a full day and hot for 12 hours. Because the material keeps the outside elements at bay, it makes it pretty pointless leaving the bottle in the fridge. If you want your liquid really cold, you’re best to pour it while in that state, or pop a few ice cubes into the bottle before closing.
The smarts and battery are housed in a disk-like bottom part which is detachable. The company has opted to use an accelerometer to keep tabs on liquid intake. All the info is communicated via Bluetooth 4.2 to the accompanying smartphone app. The bottom also houses a circular LED light which glows when it’s time to take in more liquid.
Everything is powered by a rechargeable battery. But don’t worry, this isn’t one of those gadgets you’ll need to charge every day. Once fully topped up the bottle is good for around a month of use. The app will let you know when you’re running low. To charge simply take the tracker off the bottle and connect it with the micro B type USB connector to a power source.
We all know hygiene is important, so it’s best to wash the bottle regularly with hot water and soap. If you prefer, you can even pop it into a dishwasher. Of course, make sure to remove the bottom lid and cap before if you opt for the latter option. The tracker is splash proof but should be kept away from running or standing water.
Setup and using EQUA
As with all such devices, the first time you use EQUA you’ll need to provide a few details about yourself. Start off by downloading the accompanying smartphone app call MyEqua. It is available both on App Store and Google Play.
Answer a few questions such as name, gender, birth year, height, weight and level of activity. The system will work out your hydration needs by taking these personal characteristics into account.
Once you’ve created an account in the app, it’s time to pair the bottle. Remove the tracker from the bottom and connect it with the cable to a power source. Wait until the firmware is uploaded, the LED will glow when done. Double-tap the tracker and it will pair with the smartphone app. You will know when a connection has been established by a little icon in the top right hand corner of the app dashboard.
You only need to do this once, the first time you connect. All communication between the bottle and the app will be done automatically from this point on. Whenever you open the app, it will communicate with the bottle and download your stats letting you know how you are doing. This worked pretty flawlessly with my iPhone.
The whole setup process takes only a few minutes to complete. It’s probably a good idea to leave the tracker plugged in at this stage so that it has a chance to charge fully.
If you tap on the bottle icon in the app, that will take you through to the bottle settings. This shows the bottle status, including battery level and firmware version.
The settings section also allows you to set up glow reminders. There’s a Normal (60 minutes) and Intensive (30 minutes) option. If you forget to drink in between the intervals, the bottle will remind you to take a sip with a glowing signal. You can always check whether it’s time to take another sip by tapping lightly on the bottle.
That’s pretty much all that needs to be done. From this point on just fill the bottle with liquid and make sure to drink at regular intervals.
Interpreting the results and accuracy
EQUA is designed to be used like any traditional water bottle. Just make sure to open the app from time to time to give it a chance to sync. The bottle should remember the drunken quantities for at least two days.
The company decided to make the tracker as small as possible which is why they used a movement sensor (accelerometer) to monitor water intake. Such sensors are fairly common these days and can be found in almost all activity trackers. They keep tabs on movement in each direction, inclination and tilt as well as take inertial measurements of position and velocity.
But this type of technology has inherent limits. Because it uses movements such as lifting and tilting of the bottle to determine when you’re drinking, it’s not difficult to fool it. For example if you were to keep the lid closed and tilt the bottle as if you were drinking, it will register a liquid intake.
So if you thought the bottle would flawlessly track every last drop of liquid consumed, this is not the case. Such a bottle does not exist, at least not yet.
A useful add-on is the ability to add (or remove) water intake yourself, via the app. This is done easily. The Slovenian outfit says that with the regular use, the bottle will learn and the results will get more accurate.
The app is also the place to go to for detailed insights into your drinking habits. Most of the info can be found on the dashboard. This shows a circular line that fills as you approach your daily hydration goal.
You can switch between a smooth line and an interval line. The latter shows on an hourly or half-hourly basis (depending on the settings), how many times you stuck to your hydration goal. Remember, in addition to drinking enough water, you should evenly distribute intake throughout the day.
If you want your bottle to track your water intake as accurately as possible, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure to fill the bottle entirely with each refill. Second, if you do not drink all the water and you want to pour it away before a refill, you should shake the bottle while pouring the remaining water out. That way it will know you haven’t drunk all the water and that you refilled it.
I found that even with this, you will need to combine automatic with manual adjustments in the app to ensure complete liquid intake accuracy. Perhaps in time the bottle will become better at monitoring my intake. Or I will learn what to do to ensure that every last drop of liquid is logged automatically.
The app has a few other useful functions. One of these is that it allows you to adjust your hydration goal with a tap of a button. Simply tap on the “Sun” icon to indicate that it is a hot day or the “Runner” icon to indicate you have exercised. This will increase your hydration goal appropriately. There’s also a useful timeline which allows you to view long-term trends.
EQUA says the app will be upgraded in time to play nice with Apple Watch and Fitbit software. There is no exact release date on this, but it is coming at some point.
Finally, the app also provides you with Breathing exercises. It’s not exactly necessary and I didn’t find myself using them often, but it is a nice touch. Start the exercise from the app and you’ll be guided when to breathe in when to breathe out via the app and the glowing ring on the bottle itself.
The EQUA Smart Water Bottle is a thing of beauty. You’ll struggle to find a better looking water-bottle. It simply oozes class and sophistication.
The bottle and cap are made of high-quality materials such as stainless steel and electroplated metal. There’s a marble top and a silicone pad at the bottom. The double wall insulation helps to keep water cold for a full day and hot for 12 hours.
Equa Smart Water Bottle
and EQUA website
More importantly, I found the smart bottle did motivate me to drink more – and this can only be a good thing. It automatically worked out my hydration needs, kept tabs on water intake and sent useful glow reminders when it was time to take a sip.
The accompanying smartphone app also did a decent job at presenting me with hydration stats. Having said that, the system does require a bit more work to ensure tracking accuracy. But you do always have the option to add or remove consumed liquid manually.
Many people underestimate the importance of staying hydrated and the EQUA Smart Water Bottle helps to ensure you are not one of them. Plus it looks great while doing it.
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