Smartphone application tells athletes when to drink

Engineers at Cambridge Consultants have developed a ’smart’ drinks bottle called the i-dration that works in synchronisation with a smartphone to help sportspeople maintain optimum levels of hydration.

The company developed the concept to demonstrate the full potential of mobile applications and how they can be brought to life through dedicated devices, or ’hardware apps’.

In physically demanding scenarios, levels of hydration can have a significant impact on performance, and the i-dration hardware app encourages athletes to drink when they need to, rather than only when they feel thirsty. Drinking too much water can have an equally negative effect on sports performance as drinking too little, so Cambridge Consultants designed the i-dration to ensure that users maintain a proper balance of hydration for optimum performance.

The device works by giving advice based on real-time data gathered by the bottle, which is transmitted wirelessly to a smartphone application. Intelligent sensors in the i-dration bottle can be used to monitor the external temperature, drinking frequency and quantity, and this data is then sent via Bluetooth to its user’s smartphone.

The phone’s inbuilt accelerometer and gyroscope can measure exercise levels, and by ’fusing’ the data from a heart rate chest-band and information pre-entered using the smartphone interface (such as height, age and weight), the application can perform an assessment of a user’s hydration levels. The i-dration bottle then responds accordingly by flashing a blue light if the athlete needs to drink more.

Such ’sensor fusion’ algorithms, where the data from multiple sensors are fused together, are typically found in large distributed software systems, but can now be applied to smartphones with internet connections working with dedicated hardware apps.

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