Photo:  MedCity News

Hydration tracking wearable from LVL Technologies.  A consumer wearables startup in Austin has a mission: it wants to prevent dehydration not just for athletes trying to improve the effectiveness of their fitness regimen but also for people and going about their daily lives. LVL Technologies has closed a $6.75 million Series A round. The funding will go toward accelerating manufacturing for its second generation, wrist-worn product LVL One and bringing it to market.  Samsung Catalyst Fund led the round with participation from another strategic investor — semiconductor business Maxim Integrated Products. Samsung Catalyst Fund has invested in a handful of digital health companies such as Apton Biosystems, Zyomed, imec.expand and sensifree.

Dr. Dustin Freckleton is the CEO of LVL Technologies and founded the business when it was known as BSX Athletics in 2012. He said the sensor platform is the first to measure hydration status. His motivation was for developing a hydration assessment tool was a personal experience with dehydration, Freckleton recalled in a phone interview. When he was a medical school student, he had helped neighbors clear debris from a hurricane on a hot humid day in Houston and had not consumed enough water from that strenuous activity. The next morning he suffered a stroke and said with a tinge of irony that when he alerted his roommate, a fellow medical student, he thought he was just being a hypochondriac.  “Luckily I recovered but the experience stayed with me.”

Freckleton is critical of attempts by other companies to measure hydration and being a bullish entrepreneur believes his business is taking the best approach to addressing this issue.

There are three different approaches to hydration technology companies have taken — optical measurement, electrical measurement, and chemical assessment. Each has various strengths and weaknesses, but we ultimately believe the optical approach is the way forward. An infrared light measures water in the user’s blood informing them when they need to drink. Freckleton said that not only can its product improve hydration but it can also help people with the side effects that accompany dehydration such as headaches, joint pain, and lowered mental clarity. In addition to the general population, the hydration sensor could make a difference to seniors with an increased risk of falling if they’re dehydrated as well as people with chronic kidney disease.

LVL Technologies’ first product, called Insight, was released in 2014 and is the world’s first non-invasive “lactate threshold” sensor. Lactate threshold is a physiologic marker that represents the limits of physical capability, Freckleton explained. The company claims it is currently used by U.S. Olympic teams and endurance athletes.

The kinds of businesses that have sought to develop hydration trackers span multinational companies to smaller digital health businesses such as GraphWear TechnologiesSplash band, and Kenzen, which developed a smart patch to analyze sweat to assess hydration, among other information.

Jawbone, which has been reborn from liquidation as Jawbone Health led by Hosain Rahman, is developing a medtech bracelet to track hydration among other health information, according to a Bloomberg report.

“I think one thing that makes us different from other wearables is we take a very different approach to our product development,” Freckleton said. “We obsess over performance and accuracy and the way we integrate algorithms with hardware. It may not be the fastest way to market but we are thrilled with the progress we’ve made.”

Source: A wearables startup that’s made hydration a priority