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GROW: A Smart Bottle that Uses its Surface as an Ambient Display to Motivate Daily Water Intake


Abstract and Figures

Water is an essential nutrient for human health. However, individuals may ignore drinking enough water due to the rush of everyday life. We present Grow, a conceptual smart bottle prototype designed to encourage users to drink water regularly. Our concept utilizes bottle surface as an ambient display instead of a traditional screen-based display to give feedback. Grow tracks daily water intake through an embedded liquid level sensor. It gives positive, abstract, non- intrusive and aesthetic feedback through heating up different parts of a thermo-chromic print on its surface (a tree image). We also present the results of a user study exploring 10 prospective users’ reactions to Grow as well as their expectations of smart water bottles in general.
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GROW: A Smart Bottle that Uses its
Surface as an Ambient Display to
Motivate Daily Water Intake
Water is an essential nutrient for human health.
However, individuals may ignore drinking enough water
due to the rush of everyday life. We present Grow, a
conceptual smart bottle prototype designed to
encourage users to drink water regularly. Our concept
utilizes bottle surface as an ambient display instead of
a traditional screen-based display to give feedback.
Grow tracks daily water intake through an embedded
liquid level sensor. It gives positive, abstract, non-
intrusive and aesthetic feedback through heating up
different parts of a thermo-chromic print on its surface
(a tree image). We also present the results of a user
study exploring 10 prospective users’ reactions to Grow
as well as their expectations of smart water bottles in
Author Keywords
Smart bottle, water intake, design for behavior change
ACM Classification Keywords
H.5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g.,
HCI): Miscellaneous;
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CHI'18 Extended Abstracts, April 2126, 2018, Montreal, QC, Canada
© 2018 Copyright is held by the owner/author(s).
ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-5621-3/18/04.
Gül Kaner
Koç University Arçelik Research
Center for Creative Industries
34450 İstanbul, Turkey
Hüseyin Uğur Genç
Koç University Arçelik Research
Center for Creative Industries
34450 İstanbul, Turkey
Salih Berk Dinçer
Koç University
34450 İstanbul, Turkey
Deniz Erdoğan
Koç University
34450 İstanbul, Turkey
Aykut Coşkun
Koç University Arçelik Research
Center for Creative Industries
34450 İstanbul, Turkey
CHI 2018 Late-Breaking Abstract
CHI 2018, April 21–26, 2018, Montréal, QC, Canada
LBW077, Page 1
Water is a vital nutrient for our mental and physical
health [8,10]. Dehydration, i.e. not having enough
water, can cause symptoms such as headache, fatigue,
disorder in blood pressure, urinary infections, muscle
and skin problems [1]. Although these facts are known
to many, recent studies indicate that we tend to ignore
drinking enough water required for our body. For
example, the results of two surveys conducted in the
US showed that more than 30 percent of adults and
almost 50 percent of children and adolescents are
inadequately dehydrated [2,9]. Thus, it is key to
remind people to drink water regularly to prevent the
negative effects of dehydration. This situation provides
a great opportunity for changing user behavior through
technology. Addressing this, we first designed a smart
bottle concept, Grow, which tracks daily water intake
and gives positive feedback [4] to motivate drinking
water regularly (Figure 1). While designing the bottle,
we inspired by the principles (Table 1) proposed in [7].
This allowed us not only design a bottle diverging from
previous smart bottle concepts in terms of the way it
gives feedback [3,11,12], but also provide a new
context for the principles, which was previously applied
in the context of encouraging physical activity.
When applying the principles, we chose to give
feedback through a tree image made of thermo-
chromic print applied on the bottle surface (abstract
and aesthetic), rather than using a traditional screen-
based display. This tree image is only visible when the
user drinks water from the bottle (non-intrusive). The
abstractness and non-intrusiveness of this image not
only create a surprise effect for the user but also make
it a suitable representation for a public environment
(public). We then conducted a user study concerning
prospective users’ initial reactions to Grow as well as
their expectations of smart bottles in general.
Our contribution in this paper is threefold. First, we
present a new smart bottle concept. Second, we
present users’ reactions to this concept and their
expectations of smart bottles. Third, based on users’
reactions and expectations, we reveal directions for
further research.
Related Work
Recently, tracking daily water intake has received
considerable interest from industry and academy.
Today, there are several commercial smart water
bottles available in the market (e.g., Hidrate Spark [6],
Thermos [14]) as well as scientific studies aimed at
developing prototypes that can motivate regular water
intake. For example, Mug-Tree [11] is a concept
consisting of a smart mug, which recognizes water
intake with a built-in tilt sensor, and a digital frame,
which displays a tree as a visual feedback. If the user
does not drink enough water, the tree image turns from
full of green leaves to withered bare branches. Using a
similar approach, WaterCoaster [12] calculates the
water intake with a mobile device via a weight sensor.
The user selects an undersea creature as an avatar
(e.g., a fish), then, the sea level and avatar’s emotion
change according to users’ water intake. Both concepts
use positive and negative reinforcement to motivate
drink water regularly.
Figure 1: Conceptual
prototype of Grow
Table 1: Principles for
designing ambient displays to
motivate behavior change [7]
CHI 2018 Late-Breaking Abstract
CHI 2018, April 21–26, 2018, Montréal, QC, Canada
LBW077, Page 2
Playful Bottle [3] is a mobile system which uses vision-
based (it captures the water-level via phone camera)
and motion-based (it measures the tilt of the bottle)
methods to calculate water intake. By gamification and
social facilitation, it enables users to send water intake
reminders to the other users who don’t drink enough
water. To send a reminder, the user should have a
credit that can only be earned by drinking water. The
common feature of these prototypes is that they all
consist of a water container equipped with sensors and
a traditional screen-based display to give feedback.
Developing the prototype
Advancing this previous work, we designed Grow with
the goal of developing a smart bottle concept that uses
bottle surface as an ambient display, and that
motivates regular water intake in a subtler way. Grow
has two main functions; measuring and giving feedback
about water intake. We embedded a liquid level sensor
inside the bottle, i.e. FDC1004, to calculate the water
intake (Figure 3). To give feedback about water intake,
we created a white silhouette of a cherry tree on a
black bottle body and applied dark-grey to transparent
thermo-chromic paint over this silhouette. The liquid
level sensor measures the water level by calculating the
capacitance at the levels of six copper plates placed
between the walls of the bottle (Figure 4). Raspberry Pi
interprets the capacitance values and then corresponds
them to the resistance wire. The wire heats the
thermo-chromic pigments based on the amount of
water intake. For example, when the user drinks
sufficient water required for his or her body, the entire
tree image is completed (Figure 2).
User Study
Participants and Study Procedure
We conducted semi-structured interviews with 10
healthy individuals to understand their reactions to our
concept and their expectations of smart water bottles in
general. We recruited participants through e-mails sent
to our social media accounts and university’s contact
directory. The participants were Turkish citizens, living
in İstanbul. Their ages varied between 26-46 (M=32,
We prepared a video sketch [15] to communicate our.
This video screens a woman working on an open-office
desk in front of a computer and drinking water with
Grow. After she drinks water and leaves the bottle on
the desk, a white cherry tree image appears smoothly.
We showed this video to the participants at the second
part of the interview and asked their initial reactions,
i.e. the aspects that they like and dislike about Grow.
Interviews took almost 45 minutes. We voice-recorded
the interviews, transcribed these to text, and then
analyzed them through qualitative coding [13] by using
interview questions as our analysis scheme (Table 2).
Users’ Expectations of Smart Bottles
Participants preferred using bottle, pitcher and glass
bottles for indoors, and using disposable water bottles
for outdoors, because the tap water is not drinkable in
Turkey. Half of the participants knew how much water
they should drink a day, and the other half needed
assistance for water intake amount.
Figure 2: Three stages of
tree silhouette on Grow
CHI 2018 Late-Breaking Abstract
CHI 2018, April 21–26, 2018, Montréal, QC, Canada
LBW077, Page 3
Participants had mainly five expectations. First, they
said that a smart bottle should be synched with a
smartphone. They could not think of a smart bottle
without being connected to their phone. Because they
believed that smartphone is the all-in-one device that
collects data from all other smart devices such as
activity trackers and smartwatches. However, as they
were concerned about the negative influence of the
constant Bluetooth connection on their health, they
wanted the bottle to be synced once a day or at least
as they want to sync.
Second, they mentioned that a smart bottle should
periodically remind them to drink water, because they
could forget to drink water although they have the
bottle with them. They also wanted to receive feedback
for refilling the bottle or refreshing the water inside.
They further wished to customize the frequency of
these reminders as they might be annoying sometimes.
Third, they emphasized that the required amount of
water intake might differ according to individual
characteristics. They wished that a smart bottle should
calculate this amount by using personal attributes like
basal metabolism, height, weight and so on. They also
wished to receive personalized and practical health-
related info regarding the data collected by the bottle.
Fourth, they emphasized that durability and ease of use
were also important. The material of the bottle and
especially the lid was required to be safe and durable.
Leakage, when the bottle is in a bag, could not be
accepted. They wanted a practical lid that can be
opened with only one hand. They also wished that, if
the bottle has a corresponding mobile application, it
should be simple, convenient and user-friendly. It
should not overload the user with too many settings.
Fifth, they indicated that a smart bottle should have
either a long-lasting battery life such as one month or
have replaceable alkaline batteries to provide back-up
batteries instead of charging. This was due to their wish
to save from charging one more device, as they used to
charge their smartphones at least once a day.
Users’ Reactions to Grow
Overall, the participants’ reactions were positive. They
liked the bottle design, tree image and the surprise
effect created by the appearance of this image. Half of
the participants considered Grow as motivating to drink
more water since it provides playful interaction, i.e. one
needs to fulfill a task (drinking water) to receive a
reward (full tree image). Five of the participants, who
work in an office environment, indicated that such an
environment would be a good context for using Grow.
This was because, as they mentioned, they tend to
forget drinking water while they are working, and they
think that the existence of Grow on an office table
would serve as a reminder to drink water.
Besides these positive comments, they also indicated
several concerns and revealed several suggestions for
improving the design. For example, although they
found the bottle motivating, some participants wished
that it could use gamification such as leveling-up or
challenging friends through an online community, to
create additional motivation for drinking water
regularly. The participants further indicated that seeing
the same tree image for a long time might make them
feel desensitized towards this feedback, which in turn
might reduce the bottle’s impact on behavior change in
Figure 3: Sensors and
wires placed in bottle
Figure 4: Outline of
the components
CHI 2018 Late-Breaking Abstract
CHI 2018, April 21–26, 2018, Montréal, QC, Canada
LBW077, Page 4
the long run. Another suggestion was about receiving
notifications from a mobile app to increase the Grow’s
ability to motivate water intake.
Participants also asked to be able to customize the
bottle and the tree image, because they wanted their
bottle to be unique to represent their personality. They
pointed out that having color alternatives for the bottle
and personalizing the image would be better. They also
preferred to drink water from a white bottle instead of
black, since white color gives the feeling of freshness.
Although participants appreciated seeing the abstract
feedback, they wished to receive more precise
information regarding their daily water intake. The
underlying reason behind this was their belief that
having two levels would not be enough to know how
much water they drunk and how much they need.
Discussion and conclusion
Grow is a conceptual smart bottle prototype which uses
its surface as an ambient display to motivate
individuals to drink water regularly. The design
rationale for this prototype was motivating water intake
through enhancing the act of drinking water. Unlike
previous examples sending push notifications to remind
or penalizing users by harming the undersea
creatures; Grow gives the user a positive reason to
remember drinking water with emotional feedback. To
achieve this, we designed a non-screen-based abstract
display (i.e. a silhouette of a tree), which is activated
each time the user drinks water from the bottle. We
also shared the results of a user study indicating that
users had a positive attitude towards using the concept.
We identified two important directions for further
research based on users’ initial reactions.
The first direction is enhancing Grow’s potential impact
on behavior change through adding reminders and
giving more precise feedback. Participants predicted
that receiving notifications and precise information on
the amount of water intake would be more motivating
to drink water regularly. As they suggested, this could
be done via a mobile app. However, we think that this
could also be done by modifying the water bottle. For
example, increasing the number of images and stages
would help give more precise but still abstract
information on water intake. Furthermore, a particular
print appearing on the bottle surface, e.g. sky and bird
images, would serve as a reminder to drink water or to
refresh the water in the bottle. We believed that the
solution focusing on the bottle rather than a mobile
phone app would provide a more promising research
venue for HCI. This is because motivating users to
regularly drink water through a smart bottle and its
abstract display made of thermo-chromic paint, is an
underexplored area compared to motivating through
screen-based displays such as smartphones.
The second direction is providing a room for
personalization. Participants considered water bottle as
a personal product which represents their personal
characteristics such as taste, lifestyle, gender, identity
etc. [5]. Since one of the principles considered during
the design process is creating a display suitable for
public, this role of personalization on self-expression
becomes highly important. Personalization would
provide other benefits as well. First, it would help
prevent the surprising effect of seeing the tree image
on the bottle from wearing off in time, as indicated by
the participants. For example, covering the entire bottle
surface with thermo-chromic paint and embedding
programmable wires underneath this surface, might
Lifestyle & Healthy Living
- Can you tell about your daily
routine and habits regarding
nutrition, sports, and well-being?
- Is there something you
specifically prefer to do in terms
of healthy living?
Water Intake
- How much water do you drink
in a day?
- Do you know how much water
you should drink?
- Do you need something to
remind you to drink water?
- Which tools do you use to drink
water? (glass, pitcher, bottle /
plastic or glass)
- Do you use any device, tool or
application to log your daily
water intake?
Expectations from A Smart
- There are several products
aiming to motivate users to live
healthy such as mobile apps,
smart bottles, dairies etc. What
comes to your mind when I say,
“smart bottle”?
- What sort of features should a
smart bottle have?
- How should it facilitate your
- What kind of benefits should it
- How should it look like?
After showing the video of
- What sort of features should a
smart bottle have?
- Do you like it?
- Would you use this product?
- Is there anything you do not
- What other features you would
- What is missing?
- How could it be improved?
Table 2: Interview Questions
CHI 2018 Late-Breaking Abstract
CHI 2018, April 21–26, 2018, Montréal, QC, Canada
LBW077, Page 5
provide users with an opportunity to personalize and
change the image whenever they want. Second, being
able to design and redesign a personalized image would
also respond to gamification effect emphasized in the
user study. This would increase the bond between the
bottle and the user as well as maintain their motivation
to drink water to see the pattern they designed.
In the future, we plan to improve the bottle with the
addition of new feedback levels and new reminding
mechanisms. We will conduct follow up user studies to
see users’ assessment of this new version. We also plan
to conduct design workshops to investigate the
personalization space for the visual feedback.
We would like to thank Merve Yılmaz, Sena Bozbay,
Jamil Al Najjar, Özlem Yıldız for their contribution.
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... A similar metaphor was adopted for the design of the Mug-Tree prototype (Ko et al. 2007). More recently, (Kaner et al. 2018) also used a tree metaphor: their GROW prototype consists in a bottle of water that embeds a thermo-chronic tree printing on its surface (see Fig. 5). Its aspect changes depending on the level of water in the bottle: the image is fully displayed only when the user drinks a sufficient amount of water. ...
... The entire tree is shown when the user has drunk enough water. Illustration courtesy of the authors(Kaner et al. 2018). ...
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... A persuasive game is also implemented in Playful bottle, where the user needs to drink enough water regularly to water their virtual trees. GROW [11] is a smart bottle, which uses its surface as an ambient display to motivate users to take water every day. When it is detected that the user's water intake increases, a thermo-chromic printed tree image will gradually appear on the bottle surface. ...
... we note that researchers have become interested in how pervasive technology can promote regular water intake. For example, smartphone apps have been used to send automated reminders to promote water intake [15] and a smart bottle embedded with a liquid-level sensor has been used to detect the quantity of water intake [6]. However, we note that these designs mostly focused on promoting instrumental benefits, i.e., behavior change. ...
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Conference Paper
In this paper, we present WaterCoaster, a mobile device and a mobile application to motivate people to drink beverages more often and more regularly. The WaterCoaster measures the amount drunk and reminds the user to consume more, if necessary. The app is designed as a game in which the user needs to take care of a virtual character living in a fish tank, dropping the water level if the user does not consume beverages in a healthy way. We report results of a pilot study (N=17) running three weeks suggesting that our approach is appreciated and subjectively influences participants. Based on the results, we look forward to evaluating the system in a long-term study in the next iteration.
This chapter deals with the ethics of persuasive technology. Ethical issues are especially prominent when computer technology uses novelty as a distraction to increase persuasion. When dealing with a novel experience, people not only lack expertise but they are distracted by the experience, which impedes their ability to focus on the content presented. Being in a novel situation can make people more vulnerable because they are distracted by the newness or complexity of the interaction. When it comes to persuasion, computers also benefit from their traditional reputation of being intelligent and fair, making them seem credible sources of information and advice. Another advantage of computers is persistence. Unlike human persuaders, computers don't get tired; they can implement their persuasive strategies over and over.
Can computers change what you think and do? Can they motivate you to stop smoking, persuade you to buy insurance, or convince you to join the Army? "Yes, they can," says Dr. B.J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. Fogg has coined the phrase "Captology"(an acronym for computers as persuasive technologies) to capture the domain of research, design, and applications of persuasive computers.In this thought-provoking book, based on nine years of research in captology, Dr. Fogg reveals how Web sites, software applications, and mobile devices can be used to change peoples attitudes and behavior. Technology designers, marketers, researchers, consumers-anyone who wants to leverage or simply understand the persuasive power of interactive technology-will appreciate the compelling insights and illuminating examples found inside. Persuasive technology can be controversial-and it should be. Who will wield this power of digital influence? And to what end? Now is the time to survey the issues and explore the principles of persuasive technology, and B.J. Fogg has written this book to be your guide.
Conference Paper
This study of mobile persuasion system explores the use of a mobile phone, when attached to an everyday object used by an everyday behavior, becomes a tool to sense and influ- ence that behavior. This mobile persuasion system, called Playful Bottle system, makes use of a mobile phone at- tached to an everyday drinking mug and motivates office workers to drink healthy quantities of water. A camera and accelerometer sensors in the phone are used to build a vi- sion/motion-based water intake tracker to detect the amount and regularity of water consumed by the user. Additionally, the phone includes hydration games in which natural drink- ing actions are used as game input. Two hydration games are developed: a single-user TreeGame with automated computer reminders and a multi-user ForestGame with computer-mediated social reminders from members of the group playing the game. Results from 7-week user study with 16 test subjects suggest that both hydration games are effective for encouraging adequate and regular water intake by users. Additionally, results of this study suggest that adding social reminders to the hydration game is more ef- fective than system reminders alone.