There have always been a contingent of products marketed with ridiculous pitches claiming that they can fill what you might otherwise see as a nonexistent need — just think of As Seen On TV products. Now those same type of products are moving onto the web (often through Kickstarter), and they're using sensors and integration with smartphones to make their case.
"That level of information was previously available only on the can."
Stephen Colbert took a few minutes on his show last night to skewer one the most intriguing of these new products, the Vessyl smart cup. The cup is really quite impressive: it can determine which of thousands of different drinks you put in it, and then it can sync nutrition information about that beverage over to your smartphone to help you track everything that you drink.
The cup's success comes from a mixture of impressive technology and helpful tracking, but as Colbert points out, none of that is really necessary. "A digital cup that can tell me what's in the cup and how many calories and allow me to drink it?" Colbert says. "That level of information was previously available only on the can you just poured it out of." Colbert also singles Vessyl out as a way to go in on the ridiculous claims and unnecessary buzzwords commonly repeated in campaign videos. None of that is to say that Vessyl is a bad idea — but Colbert makes a good case that it and similarly marketed products may not be as helpful as they seem.