The team at Mark One wants to change the way you drink through the invention of Pryme Vessyl: a “smart” water bottle that not only tells you how much to drink but when to drink it. Freaky, huh?
Next month, you can experience PV at our Food Loves Tech event—tickets and more info here. We recently caught up with Nic Barnes and Dr. Hanson Lenyoun of Mark One to hear more about the latest in smart-wear and to debunk certain hydration myths.
Edible Manhattan: Pryme Vessyl seems like a lot of technology to simply remind us we need eight glasses of water each day. Why should we swap our Nalgenes and Kleen Kanteens?
Nic Barnes: Funny you should start with that, as that’s the common misconception around hydration—one that I fell victim to as well. Growing up, I was an athlete, so nutrition and hydration were always key to performing well. All of my consumption was tied to athletics, so when I stopped playing I also stopped drinking as much water and eating as well. I would hit an afternoon slump that coffee wouldn’t fix and I often felt groggy in mornings. Now, with my team here, I have an opportunity to create awareness that I myself lacked around what people are consuming.
Working with Mark One has helped me understand that my hydration needs are unique to me and change throughout the day. I’ve worked closely with Hanson on the Pryme algorithm so I am more aware of the science behind why I feel sluggish at a certain point of day. There have been a multitude of benefits in increasing my own awareness of optimal hydration, so I think this will really help people with similar misconceptions around the impact of hydrating properly.
EM: So, Pryme Vessyl is getting at the root of very basic issues people see each day: fatigue, concentration, etc.?Hanson Lenyoun: Exactly. I’m a surgeon by training and kept seeing the same patients with the same preventable problems. In leaving surgical practice to work with Mark One, my hope is to leverage technology to avoid certain medical ailments that are easily prevented through shifts in diet and consumption.
Through automatic consumption tracking, we are taking the guesswork out of the consumption equation. With other apps and technology available, there is still a manual entry aspect to tracking food and drink that seen as labor intensive. Automating this enables removes the pain point, allowing people to continue with their habits and review the data.
EM: Let’s bring it back to my first question on the difference between this and other technologies focused on fitness and consumption tracking. Aside from automated consumption tracking, what is Pryme Vessyl doing differently?
HL: We know that when you drink is as important as how much you drink. Thinking you need to chug a bunch of water before bed because you haven’t had any that day misses the point. We want people to think about what you need when you need it. There’s a lot of interesting research on hydration front and the negative aspects of dehydration. Most people assume that when thirst kicks in, that is when dehydration begins. But you can experience 1 percent dehydration but most often thirst doesn’t kick in until you’re 2 percent or more dehydrated. Because Pryme Vessyl syncs with your Apple Health and other health tracking apps, it’s aware of your level of activity and will let you know when you should be drinking water.
EM: How does the bottle know if you’re drinking or just washing it? And what about if someone fills it with coffee or juice or even alcohol?
NB: The main focus is to get you to understand your hydration. There’s a variety of sensors in the product that understand when you’re sipping versus washing it; for instance, when it’s turned completely upside down, it’s not tracking that.
HL: We recommend water and infused waters, sparkling water, tea and coffee without much milk and sugar. We are definitely not encouraging using your Pryme Vessyl to drink soft drinks, alcohol and other sugary beverages.
NB: We are actually working on a feature within the app to indicate when you are drinking alcohol and how that will affect your hydration so you have an accurate picture.
EM: So there’s no fooling the system. In terms of what you’re suggesting people drink, I thought coffee and tea are known to dehydrate you?
HL: That’s another hydration myth. There’s a lot of research showing that due to their makeup, which is typically three-quarters water, they are hydrating as well.
EM: You mentioned Apple Health earlier. What other technology is Pryme Vessyl integrated with and where is it available for purchase?
NB: We launched in Apple stores and Equinox in November. As we develop the technology further and take all the feedback we’ve received into account, we’ll partner globally with more retailers. As far as technology, we’re integrated with Apple Health, Fitbit and Jawbone. We want to make sure that we’re building products that fit into the lives of consumers, so we know that needs to fit into what they’re already using. We’re building the Pryme algorithm to make sure there’s a holistic view of one’s health across various platforms.
EM: In terms of price point, Pryme Vessyl is a much bigger investment than a non-tech water bottle. How do you make the case for a $100 bottle?
NB: That’s a fair question. If you’re thinking about Apple Watch, FitBit, etc., they’re all pricier but have tremendous benefit and impact on one’s overall health. Pryme Vessyl is more like an Apple Watch or FitBit than a Nalgene bottle. It’s a sensitive topic, given the economy and comparison to your average water bottle but the benefits of automatic tracking and consumption awareness are there. We wanted to build a product that celebrates your focus on getting healthier.
HL: The power in what we do is bringing information together. Automated tracking of food, exercise, hydration, etc. has existed in silos for some time and you had to go to so many places for the information you need. Pryme Vessyl gives people the info they need at the moment they need it. With the algorithm, we bring together all the data about a person, like their diet, sleep, activity and hydration, and integrate it into how we recommend what people need.