Quantifiably unsane: Vessyl
According to the nation’s editorial pages, the modern era is characterized by international trade, the spread of “democracy” and high technology. Historians from the future will characterize the present as a squalid LED-lit beeping dark age where common sense went to die.
Today’s exhibit, brought to you thanks to their PR department: Vessyl. A $200 electric cup that allegedly tells you what you put in the cup, keeps track of how much of it flows into your gob, and sends messages to your nerd-dildo telephone criticizing your choice of beverages. The idea is to help people make “healthier choices” with respect to caffeine intake and liquid calories.
From their website:
“A key feature of the cup is fundamental hydration-tracking, estimating how much you need for peak hydration. You can tell if you need more water or not through what the company dubbed Pryme. As Business Insider explained, “You simply tilt the cup to activate the display. That blue light at the top means you’re fully hydrated. Throughout the day, that line will fluctuate.”
Or, you could take a drink of water when you’re thirsty, you fucking dumbasses. Or should I say, dymasses. Just starting from the obvious: unless you also pee, shit, breathe and sweat in your dumb magic cup, Gauss’s Law dictates that a cup actually has no clue as to the state of hydration of the human container you’re pouring liquid in. What happens if I am exercising? What if I am in a desert, or the Antarctic? What if I contract another case of Ukrainian amoebic dysentery and am doubled over and shitting water and blood? What if I have a ‘drinking problem’ like the guy on Airplane?
No matter how good their models are or how many data scientists they hire: no magic cup can tell how well hydrated I am. Thirst, on the other hand, tends to work pretty well as a way of regulating hydration. Or, if optimal hydration is important, use the technique they use in the army and Burning Man and drink water until you pee clear.
There are other things obviously wrong with this muppet idea. For example: the concept that someone needs a $200 electric cup to tell them that drinking soda or liquor is going to make them into fat drunkards, or that coffee keeps you awake at night. What most fat people need is not a sensor in their cup, but a sensor in their mouth, with a loudspeaker which shouts insults at them every time they stick pasta, ho-hos and icecream in it. Fundamentally though: why do I need my cup to tell me what I put in my cup? I put it there. What kind of neurotic space cadet needs a $200 cup to tell them what they put in their cup?
The “quantified self movement” is one of the most godawful dorky things ever to have caused squeals of nerdy delight at gaseous TED Chautauquas. The fundamental idea behind such things is sound: muscle heads, coaches and athletes have kept food logs and workout notebooks for as long as there have been muscle heads, coaches, athletes and the ability to write things down. Data is useful, but no excel spreadsheet or preposterous algorithm is going to do the thinking for you. You have to find the patterns yourself. You almost always have to write the data down yourself as well. Finally, you have to do experiments which test for outcomes: A/B testing is actually kind of hard when performed on a human being. There are fancier ways to infer patterns than A/B testing (coaches use them instinctively), but the chances of average individuals using such statistical tools productively is approximately nil. Most people don’t even know where to start. All the “quantified self” thing does is attempt to give lazy people with too much money access to the ancient technology known as “a notebook,” which is far more general and useful. Emacs org mode if you want to get all technological. The results speak for themselves. Old school notebooks work better in achieving real world results. Technology is a distraction, and no amount of technology can make up for a lack of character.
Whatever problems this “vessyl” purports to solve are more effectively solved without the use of electrical devices. Fat people need to eat less, and stop drinking calories. Insomniacs should drink less or no coffee. No nerd dingus or $200 electric cups will be required. About the only genuine utility I can think of for this is using it to attempt to detect date rape drugs, and it doesn’t claim to be able to do that. Not that anyone would use it when they’d need such a thing, but at least it is a legitimate application of an alleged food sensor that costs $200.
But hey, don’t listen to me: listen to what “leaders” tell you: