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U of M students launch the 'smart' water bottle that tells you when to drink

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We have smart phones, watches, TVs and even refrigerators – now a group of University of Minnesota students is set to bring smart water bottles to the market.

The Business Journal reports the tech startup, Hidrate Inc., launched a Kickstarter fundraising drive Monday to develop its Hidrate Me bottle with the intention of raising an initial $35,000.

And it didn't take long. The campaign raised more than $41,000 as of Tuesday morning, which should mean that production begins this summer and the bottles will start shipping early next year.

The Hidrate Me bottle is the brainchild of five University of Minnesota students led by CEO Nadya Nguyen, who pulled together a team to enter the Google Twin Cities Startup Weekend in Minneapolis last year – where they finished third, the company's website says.

Their product is a 24-ounce, reusable-plastic, dishwasher-safe water bottle with a sensor inside that automatically tracks how much you drink throughout the day, the Kickstarter page says.

Nguyen told the Business Journal that the inspiration for the idea came after she started to exercise more and eat healthier, but "still felt sluggish." Taking her friend's advice to drink more water did the trick, leading to her hydration creation.

How it works

This sensor sends information to your smart phone which tracks how much water you're drinking, and then the bottle glows when it's time to drink more. The sensor runs on a battery that should last for a year and can be "easily replaced."

The fledgling company says the product and app helps people take care of themselves better, using a person's height, weight, age and activity level to judge how much water they should be drinking to stay fully hydrated.

The app can also take information from fitness trackers like FitBit to see how much exercise you're doing and how that affects your water needs, as well as using your location to see whether you need more water because of heat or humidity.

The Hidrate team comprises of Alexander Hambrock, Coleman Iverson, Nguyen, Daniel Worku and Alexandra Feeken, who between them are engineers, designers, marketers and developers.

After finishing third in the startup competition last year, they were accepted into the Spring Mobile Health Accelerator program. The 3-month program helps startups seeking to improve health using mobile technology to accelerate their business.

Having reached their fundraising goal, they will make their first production order in July, and will finalize the app and start producing bottles by November.

They will then start shipping the finished product around the turn of the year, the company's website says.

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