- Screen Shot 2018 07 12 at 4 - This startup has a holy grail for hydration – Stacey on IoT
The LVL monitor hardware. Image courtesy of LVL.

One morning, when Dustin Freckleton was in medical school, he woke up with a blinding headache. He stumbled to the bathroom and saw that his vision was off — or rather, he was. He wasn’t able to stand up properly. He looked down and realized that his foot was turned inward. He started to feel a numbness down his left side and by the he made his way back to his bedroom he fell over, paralyzed on that side of his body.

He was having a stroke. At the age of 24. Months later, after regaining the full use of his body and mind, his doctors diagnosed the cause of the stroke as extreme dehydration. Feckleton’s stroke was caused by not drinking enough water. His experience, and now visceral understanding of the importance of hydration, led to his founding of LVL.

LVL plans to sell a connected wearable that tracks your body’s drinking and overall hydration levels. It by using a new sensor type to track water in the body. And the algorithm that powers LVL’s wearable, could even become one of the new versions of other popular wearables later this year. And it’s the algorithm rather than the hardware that LVL really wants to sell.

Feckleton is meeting with several large consumer technology companies to pitch LVL’s algorithm for their products, using the new sensor. The algorithm takes into account how blood is moving throughout a person’s body, their heart rate, and how often they drink water to calculate what LVL calls a Body Thirst metric.

This metric is going to correlate to thirst because by the time a person feels thirsty, she is actually around 2% dehydrated. Feckleton hopes to trigger people to drink before that point.

A cynic might argue that it won’t correlate to thirst because that’s a measurement that could prove or disprove the algorithm. However, Feckleton says he has proof the algorithm works. He asked the University of Arkansas to complete a study on the effectiveness of the LVL , and the results were promising. The study showed that LVL had a strong ability to anticipate perceived thirst and detect actual hydration during several different types of activity.

It also did a good job predicting actual sweat vs. the amount of sweat the algorithm predicted a user would generate. And it tracked closely with the amount of water the study participants drank throughout the day. So if you’re trying to stay hydrated, the LVL math did a good job tracking water consumption, how much water you lost through sweat, and when you’d actually get thirsty. The results are strong, but the study only included 12 people (seven females and five males).

That might be enough for now. Most fitness trackers rely on the user to self-report their water consumption. Fitbit created a partnership with Thermos to make a water bottle that tracked what you drank from the bottle and input it into the , but at $60, it’s a pricey option. Plus, you have to use the same cup all the time. It also only tracks what’s going into your body, not water lost through sweat and respiration.

Yet, some people will buy the Thermos because water consumption and hydration are essential for health, productivity, and overall well-being. Dehydration isn’t likely to cause a stroke in most people, but it can exacerbate heart conditions, diabetes, and cause headaches or dizziness. Having an easy way to track what you are drinking and how hydrated you are could help millions improve their lives.

I hope LVL makes that happen.

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