Drinks brand launches smart technology to improve athlete performance.
No longer just a sports drink brand, Gatorade is developing a bottle cap fitted with a microchip and a smart sweat patch.
The two objects are part of the brand’s Fuel Lab initiative, and work together to analyse an athlete’s hydration levels and inform them when and how much they should drink.
The two-by-one-inch patch is disposable, battery-powered and tracks the sodium loss on your forearm to monitor your sweat and electrolyte levels.
The bottle lid tracks hydration levels and shares data with the user or coach in real time through the Gatorade Hydration app. People then receive nutritional advice based on an algorithm Gatorade developed with the Sports Science Institute.
Athletes are then instructed to drink Gatorade, or one of its 12 formulas that are packaged in little pods that fit directly onto the smart cap. Each formula is designed to provide the optimum amount of carbs, calories and electrolytes for a specific ‘sweat type’. Further down the line, Gatorade says that it will be creating bespoke formulas based on sweat patch data.
The bottle cap also includes a flashing light that indicates to the user when it is time to fill up, and when it’s time for them to take another drink. Neither product is publicly available yet, Gatorade is aiming for release by 2018, but the fuel pods will be commercially available later this year.
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Harnessing tech / Gatorade has been testing the smart bottle cap since 2014, when an older version was used by the Brazil football team in their World Cup training. Now, a newer version is being trialled by FC Barcelona as well as the Boston Celtics basketball team. But this launch at SXSW is the first time Gatorade has indicated it would be rolling out this tech to the general public.
There has been a huge surge in the popularity of wearable, digital tech – with device sales growing 172% last year, according to an International Data Corporation report. And the sweat patch is essentially a cluster of wearable sensors that don’t just collect data – like a FitBit does with your step count and heart rate – but also takes that data and gives you nutritional advice based on it. This makes the tiny device valuable to consumers hoping to improve their athletic performance. According to Forbes, Gatorade has a mammoth 77% of America’s sports drink market share, so this could be a good way for the brand to expand and deepen its reach further.
Future fuel / The PepsiCo brand has been expanding its repertoire from drinks to supplements for years, and these smart objects tie in with its new products nicely. Gatorade has created a range of products that target specific problems that athletes experience during training, so each athlete, trainer or regular joe can build a personalised solution. ‘Personalization is an ongoing trend with athletes,’ Gatorade’s innovation director, Xavi Cortadellas, told Digiday. ‘From a scientific point of view, hydration needs are
different and technology enables us to know as much about their body as possible.’
The fuel pod system is reminiscent of Figure, a device created by beauty startup Romy Paris to allow users to create bespoke skincare products based on their lifestyle and the environment they live in. ‘It is unbelievable that a bottle of classic skincare does not respond to major changes,’ Romy Paris co-founder Morgan Acas told Contagious. ‘We want to follow our consumer everywhere to give the best recommendations for their skin.’ Gatorade is using its technology for the same purpose: to track the precise needs of its customers in order to provide scientifically-based recommendations.”