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BSX is crowd-funding a hydration-monitoring wrist band

Published September 14, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas (BRAIN) — BSX, which launched a cuff that measured blood lactate and oxygenation levels two years ago, is now crowd-funding a product with potentially a much larger market: a fitness wrist band that monitors hydration levels in real time, alerting athletes and others when it's time to drink up.

The BSX LVL (pronounced "level") uses near infrared light at the wrist to measure the wearer's hydration level. The same system measures heart rate at the wrist. While BSX's initial product was of interest to some competitive athletes, hydration levels concern virtually everyone interested in fitness. And BSX claims to have a lock on the technology behind its product.

BSX founder and CEO Dustin Freckleton, MD, told BRAIN that the company's initial product, the Insight blood lactate-measuring cuff, was "a stepping stone" toward a hydration monitor. Freckleton had a personal interest in such a monitor — while in college, he suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed for several weeks. He later determined the stroke was a result of dehydration following a long day of outside work.

"I became interested in, why did my body not warn me (that he was getting dehydrated)? Why wasn't there some kind of signal? Why was thirst not a sufficient measure and what other technology could have closed that gap?"

The LVL technology builds on that used in medical devices that can use near infrared light to measure pulse, respiration rate, hydration and other factors. Consumer devices, including the Apple Watch, use both green light and near infrared light to measure heart rate, but Freckleton said BSX has patents on the use of near infrared light to measure hydration levels at the wrist.

Freckleton said BSX has had discussions with some major makers of fitness monitors about licensing the technology. For now, he feels that bringing a product to market is the best way to prove the technology; the company may resume licensing discussions after the LVL gets to market.

"The market opportunity is too large (not to consider licensing)," he told BRAIN. "We learned from bringing the BSX Insight to market that solving difficult problems in development gave us a reference that accelerates our ability to have those (licensing) conversations."

The LVL will display four hydration levels on its face, so users can tell at a glance whether they are running low. It will also have features showing how the user's athletic performance will be affected by the hydration level. Freckleton said the same hardware in the wrist band is capable of measuring lactate level and other factors if the software was created to do so. The wrist band can also wirelessly send the hydration information to a phone or a bike computer.

BSX hopes to deliver the LVL by next summer. It will retail for about $200. Early Kickstarter supporters are being offered a unit for a $100 pledge.

BSX exceeded its $50,000 Kickstarter goal on the first day of the campaign.

More information at the product's Kickstarter page

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