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First Look: New Yves Behar-Designed “Smart” Cup Knows Exactly What You’re Drinking

Can Vessyl take the pain out of having to count your calories?

Health and fitness monitors are great and all, but one of the pain points for wearers is that most existing products still require you to manually log what you’re eating and drinking throughout the day.

That’s where a San Francisco-based company called Mark One wants to shake things up. For the past seven years, Mark One, in collaboration with Yves Behar’s design firm Fuseproject, has been working on a “smart” cup that interprets, measures and records what you’re drinking — seconds after the liquid fills the cup.

The polymer cup, called Vessyl, contains a proprietary sensor that, according to the product’s co-creator Justin Lee, “examines things at a molecular level.” In other words: It knows exactly what you’re drinking, and how much of it. It analyzes calories, sugar, protein, fat content and more. Then it shares that information with a compatible mobile app using Bluetooth 4.0.

I had the chance to briefly test a prototype version of Vessyl at the company’s San Francisco offices earlier this week. Lee laid out a variety of beverages, from water to wine, soda to sugary juices, with which I could test the cup. I chose a Starbucks double espresso shot in a can and, after that, a Coca-Cola (unfortunately for my colleague Ina Fried, there was no Diet Coke on hand).

Vessyl not only recognized that I was pouring in espresso, it knew that it was a Starbucks double espresso. And several seconds after I poured the Coca-Cola into a clean Vessyl, the compatible mobile app displayed “Coke” on the main page. After a few minutes of testing, I wouldn’t say I was totally drinking the Vessyl Kool-Aid (get it? get it?), but I was pretty wowed.

The mobile app, which will run on iOS and Android, isn’t the only way to see what you’re consuming: The cup itself will have a small LED display that will show similar information. A twist of the cup in the hand will activate this display.

Vessyl’s creators have also come up with a proprietary hydration-measurement system called Pryme, which will appear as a single line on the cup’s display. In other words, when your Pryme line gets low, it’s time to hydrate.

Let’s say you’re not keen on the idea of carrying around a cup all day, or you don’t feel like taking it to the bar for Happy Hour. You can still manually enter those cocktails into your Vessyl app.

“When consumers track what they’re eating or drinking, whether by typing something into an app or by taking pictures, the chance of achieving your health goals is so much higher,” says Lee. “But with the current way of doing this, there’s still too much friction. So we’re just trying to make tracking what you consume as automatic as possible.”

Here’s the bad news: Vessyl isn’t available just yet. It’s available for preorders starting today, at a reduced price of $99. It will ship in early 2015 for $199.

A $200 cup! Yes, a $200 cup that you have to charge once a week and can’t go in the dishwasher! I know, I know. But with Internet-connected, data-driven tech pervading our bodies, cars and homes, it’s not surprising at all that our tableware is now getting smarter.

And Mark One likely isn’t stopping with the Vessyl cup. When I asked whether “smart” bowls or plates might be in our future (we’ve already seen a smart fork), Lee simply said, “We have a strong [product] pipeline.”

Here’s a video the company made, so you can get an idea of how it works:

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