Interview: Water.IO transforms ordinary bottle into ‘smart bottle’
The demand for “smart” packaging has greatly increased this year, with reports predicting 8% annual growth to $3.5bn by 2017, in the US alone. Earlier this year, we reported on Hidrate’s bottle revolutionising water intake and Johnnie Walker’s smart bottle that alerts the consumer when the drink is nearly gone. However, unlike its predecessors, Water.IO are approaching this sector from a different angle. A start-up from Israel, Water.IO has invented a smart cap which fits onto most standard bottles – turning existing disposable bottles into smart bottles! We spoke to co-founder Yoav Hoshen about the company, the technology and the consumer drinking experience.
What is Water.IO and what inspired you to start up the company?
Water.IO is all about providing smart solutions to help prevent dehydration, while at the same time push the beverages and food industry into the Internet of Things (IoT) and big-data arena. People don’t drink enough water during the day, and we all forget to drink. We would like to help people by making their disposable water bottles remind them when they need to drink. So we’ve developed smart caps technology sensors that can be used by any cap or closure manufacturer and any bottler, and that actually enable the bottle to measure how much drink is in the bottle and alert with blinking lights when the customer needs to drink more, based on his personal profile. So actually we help turning every standard disposable bottle into a smart bottle. At the same time, this smart cap also sends information to the customer’s smartphone and the beverages companies get, for the first time, real-time analytics about who their customers are, how they drink, when, where and how this is related to other factors like weather, sport activity, geography, age.
Tell us about the development process for the smart bottle caps. What technology have you used?
We’ve been working in the last year on developing an advanced, patented sensors technology that can get into any standard bottle cap, and come in different form factors. We also developed the application on the smartphone that can be branded with the beverage company, which now can benefit from a direct engagement with its customers; and we also developed the analytics dashboard that provides the beverages companies with the real time analytics about their customers – think about it as if every beverages company can get the type of information companies like Facebook or Google get about their customers. Water.IO is actually the first to add Internet of Things (IoT) into the packages of beverages and food in such a model.
How will the smart bottle caps enhance the consumer drinking experience?
We help customers improve their health and wellness by understanding their hydration needs. Let’s say you are used to drink a beverage X that now comes with the Water.IO sensors in the cap. So you download for only the first time an app to your smartphone (we tailor our app to get the look and feel of that company) and after adding basic information for only the first time – like your age, height, weight, the app builds a personalised drinking profile for you. Now, every time you use any of those drinks from company X, the smart cap measures the amount of liquid in the bottle, and when you need to drink more, your bottle starts to blink. If this is a hot day, the algorithm is being updated in the background and you get recommendations to drink more. If you walked a lot outside, again, you get updated alerts, personalised just for you. We also have models of our caps that don’t need the smartphone and can alert the user based on time that has passed from the last time he drank before…