Some kids may not be drinking as much water as they ought to, so a company called Gululu is trying to make a game out of it. It's created a product called the Gululu Interactive Bottle, which is among the more high-tech water bottles out there: it has a screen, a home button, a pair of touch sensors, Wi-Fi, and wireless charging capabilities. It also has the ability to track how much water is being consumed.
There's no real standard for how much water kids need
When you first get Gululu's bottle, it'll have you set a goal for how much water your child should be drinking. It'll then track their progress on the bottle's screen in a couple of ways. There's a map that advances toward a goal as they drink more and more. They'll also have a digital pet (like a cartoon jellyfish / octopus thing) that evolves as they meet their goals. The hope is that kids will get invested enough in the digital pet to make them want to meet their daily drinking goals. Parents can check in on their progress through a connected app.
It's a neat idea and seems to be well made and put together, but there's definitely an open question here about how useful and necessary the Gululu is. For one, you have to convince kids to actually use it. But more important is the question of whether the kids of parents who can afford to buy a Wi-Fi-connected water bottle actually need more water at all.
A recent study from Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that more than half of US kids and teens aren't getting enough water each day. There may well be something here, but there's one quirk in the study: it defines "enough water" by looking at two other studies, and those other studies are judging "enough water" by test scores. As it turns out, there isn't really an agreed upon definition of "enough water," and there's good reason to be critical of research saying we aren't meeting that undefined standards.
It launches on Kickstarter today
So the very idea that most US kids need more water may be wrong. That doesn't mean the Gululu is useless, but it's worth keeping in mind when deciding how necessary it is for your kid to drink from one.
Gululu's app will recommend to parents how much water their child should be drinking each day based on factors like weight, height, and where you live (it doesn't automatically update over time, so parents will have to change it as their child grows). The recommendation tries to account for natural water loss and the water you typically intake through food. Gululu says that its researchers "digested quite a few dissertations" while determining water requirements, so they're aiming for something accurate; but again, it's not based on any widely accepted standard of necessary water intake.
The Gululu Interactive Bottle is launching today through a Kickstarter campaign that's looking to raise $100,000. The bottle will sell for $99 and should begin shipping in September. The hardware is already finished; Gululu says it'll be using the Kickstarter campaign period to get feedback and polish up its app.
Correction May 24th, 1:24PM ET: Gululu says its water bottle can tell if kids try to cheat by dumping out water; an earlier version of this article joked that kids might attempt just that.