Is your water bottle trying to tell you something?

Cambridge Consultants unveils its new i-dration bottle, which synchronizes with a smartphone as a "hardware app" to deliver hydration advice and warnings.

Here's one for all the fitness and gadget gurus: the i-dration device.

The i-dration bottle flashes blue when the user is deemed dehydrated. Cambridge Consultants

The prototype bottle, which developer Cambridge Consultants is calling the first in a new generation of hardware apps (although we've found others), dispenses hydration advice by wirelessly transmitting real-time data to a smartphone. The bottle's sensors monitor not only fluid quantity but also temperature and drinking frequency.

The corresponding smartphone app, in turn, uses the phone's built-in accelerometer and gyroscope to measure exercise levels, and then fuses data from a heart-rate chest band with pre-entered details (i.e. height, age, weight) to assess the user's hydration levels. If it determines the user is dehydrated, the i-dration bottle flashes a blue light.

"We believe that in the next 12 to 18 months we will see a plethora of new dedicated 'hardware apps'--such as the i-dration drinks bottle--that will work in tandem with a smartphone to enhance a range of consumer products and services," says Rachel Harker of Cambridge Consultants in a news release. "Inexpensive wireless hardware apps have the potential to increase the versatility of smartphones."

A company representative tells me that the bottle is a prototype and still in concept, so this won't exactly be a 2010 stocking stuffer, but the folks at Cambridge see it making the most sense for endurance athletes in training. I also see potential in hospitals and emergency situations, not just for patients but for the nurses and doctors, too.

I'll report back from the company's booth at CES in January, where I'm told I'll get a one-on-one session with the prototype and chest band, though I plan to wear more than the above sports bra.