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Does Your Water Bottle Really Need to be 'Smart?'

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Photo via Flickr/minutesalone (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Imagine a world where you could count every sip of water you took – and your boss could see it too. That’s the idea behind brothers Jac and Davis Saltzgiver’s new invention, Trago.

“We allow coaches and teams, or even parents, to monitor an entire group of people with multiple bottles, so a coach or trainer could make sure their entire team is well hydrated before a game,” Davis Saltzgiver says.

I had to ask Jac Saltzgiver the obvious question.

“Thirst that is good for most people, especially people that are really in tune with listening to their body and the way we feel, but many of us aren't very good at that essentially,” Saltzgiver says. “We are working out, we're always on the go, we're working really hard and long hours, and we don't really take the time to step back and really kind of realize, 'hey I should be drinking water now,' or 'this is how much I should be drinking after I train,' and Texas heat, you know, after a long run that day.”

The tracker is for serious athletes, maybe not for joggers or weekend warriors. But the more than two dozen fitness trackers out there are marketed to the everyman.

Austin-based Map My Fitness was acquired by Under Armour this year, and now the company says it will hire 100 tech workers for its downtown office.

“It really makes Austin a great place to start a company like this that really will plug into those platforms that are already tracking people's workouts,” Saltzgiver says. “Those are platforms like Map My Fitness and MyFitnessPal, and in Europe the big one is Endomondo. And right now all three of those sit under the Under Armor umbrella.”

But tracking our sleep, our calories, our steps and now our water? Professor Prabhudev Konana at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business says it might all be too much.

“Do you really need it in real life? The body reacts to not having water. My take has always been, if it can provide you some feedback that is useful to the people, so be it. A small segment that says this kind of notification is cool,” he says. “Whether I use it or not, that's a different thing. It's cool, so I'm going to buy it.”

Konana says the reason gamification is a buzzword is because it’s effective. Take Fitbit.

“I walk around, but I never paid attention. But sometimes you keep working and suddenly it beeps you, you've been sitting for so long — get up,” he says. “Believe it or not my reaction is: I wake up, I get up.”

Konana says the real test of whether the market has been oversaturated with fitness trackers is whether people keep them. Tech analyst group Parks Associates predicts the fitness tracker industry will be worth $5.4 billion by 2019. We’ll have to see if the demand matches the hype.

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