Monday, May 30, 2016

Gululu turns drinking water into a Tamagotchi-like game for kids

Through the power of smart sensors and the magic of the cloud, children being parched is on its way to becoming a thing of the past — at least, if the Gulülu team has anything to say in the matter. The company’s bottle, launching on Kickstarter today, is the newest, most high-tech weapon in the battle to get kids to imbibe enough liquids throughout the day.

The idea is to turn the act of drinking water into an integrated game. The water bottle has a small screen built in, and additional sensors mean that shaking two bottles in close proximity to each other make the pets “friends,” enabling them to interact.

The bottles have rechargeable batteries and a wireless charging dock to keep the battery topped up. The company claims the Gulülu will stay juiced for four days before another recharge is required.

Part of the theory behind Gulülu is to integrate water drinking into everyday activities.The bottles use multiple embedded sensors to measure not just how much water is disappearing from the bottle throughout the day, but also to attempt to determine whether the kid is actually rehydrating, or trying to be cheeky, pouring the water out in the flower bed outside the school. The idea is that only actually drinking is rewarded, and that the digital pets thrive best if the bottle’s owners use them as intended.

For parents, in addition to having a chance to try to influence their children to drinking more water, there’s an additional incentive: The Gulülu syncs with the cloud and lets parents monitor how their kids are getting on via the iOS and Android apps. Parents can also schedule “sleep” or “school” modes, during which the pets go to sleep and become unresponsive, so the pets don’t become a distraction during sleeping or learning hours.

Gulülu has prototypes ready to go, and a few days ago launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the product through the final production phase, with early-bird pricing starting at $89, followed by regular-priced Gulülu bottles at $99 each. The company estimates a shipping date of September, and the recommended retail price will be $129 once the products start making an appearance on shelves.

It’s an interesting product, and it’s easy to imagine a world where every child in your vicinity is running around shaking their Gulülu bottles at each other and the product turns into a huge hit. For that to happen, however, two things need to click into alignment. Parents need to both feel that hydration is a big enough problem to solve and decide that a $129 water bottle is the right way of going about tackling the issue. My gut tells me that Gulülu is an expensive solution to a non-existent problem. Time will tell, and it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on the Kickstarter campaign either way.

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