Aquarate approached us to help develop their innovative fluid monitoring system, Hydracare Technology. This smart fluid intake monitoring system was created to help people at the risk of suffering from dehydration, as well as their carers. It is intended to work behind the scenes in hospital wards, care homes, assisted living environments and personal home care, being used as an observation and recording tool and leaving more time for patient-centred care.
Design Reality were asked to refine Aquarate’s rough proof-of-principal prototype into a product that would be suitable for use and manufacture. The result - Hydracup and its auxiliary Hydracare Technology - is for use in care organizations. It monitors the amount of fluid consumed throughout the day to ensure proper hydration.
Research & development
A lot of the development was in refining the electronic fluid-sensing technology to be accurate within 15ml, and work with both hot and cold fluids. This involved lots of hardware iterations of the sensors, and a lot of development on the firmware that interprets the signals from the sensors.
The cup hardware has been designed with elderly users in mind, utilising research in care homes provided by Aquarate. The cup is also fully sealed for use in commercial dishwashers – this product feature took a lot of testing to ensure it works.
Using capacitive sensors and some clever firmware, we are able to detect fluid loss within 15ml accuracy, as well as detect probable spills. One of the big challenges was getting the system to work accurately with hot fluids.
Designed for ease of use
The fluid monitoring system is designed so that there is no input needed from the users or care home/hospital staff. The Hydracup can be used as any other, with the electronics working in the background recording the amount of fluid consumed. It can be used by multiple users, easily cleaned and charged wirelessly.
Recharging pad and battery
Hydracup's battery lasts for 10 days before a recharge is required. To make the Hydracup suitable for washing, there are no exposed electronics. As a result, Hydracup charges wirelessly via a standard Qi induction charger pad. Alternatively, multiple cups can be charged in a charging tray.