Image source: LVL Technologies

LVL, the first hydration tracking wearable delayed till summer 2018

The wait for the first wearable that automatically tracks your hydration levels will be a bit longer.

We ran a feature back in September last year on LVL, a fitness tracker that uses red-light technology to measure your hydration levels. It comes from BSX Athletics, an Austin-based wearable sensor company.

This technology penetrates 10 times deeper into your body than the green lights commonly found in fitness trackers, letting it both measure hydration levels and grab accurate heart rate readings. The company says its tested it on hundreds of athletes in their sweat lab, using gold standards in biometric sensing to refine its algorithms. Fitbit’s upcoming smartwatch is rumoured to be using the same red-light technology.

Essential reading: Wearable and health technology crowdfunding projects

Like many other fitness trackers, LVL can also track your activity (steps, distance, floors climbed), calories, sleep, mood and heart rate for a complete picture of your health. So a complete package.

Image source: LVL Technologies

Now, all this sounds good on paper. In fact it sounds so good that the company raised a whopping $1.2 million from 7,500 backers on Kickstarter to develop the product. With a delivery date set for June 2017, we were anxiously anticipating the arrival of the first hydration monitoring device.

But this is where things start to go wrong. After a few updates, its backers were pretty much hit with a wall of silence. In 2017 – there have only been 4 updates, and 2 of those have had no information – just a “more info coming soon” message. Much ire followed, and the backers eventually forced an update earlier this month.

The most appropriate place to begin is with an apology,” it read.

“I’m sorry. I write to you this afternoon not as the LVL team, hiding behind an amorphous entity without name or face, but as CEO, founder, a person and father, and a man who is deeply passionate about the work that we are engaged in.

“When our team started the Kickstarter campaign, we pledged transparency and regular updates. Something you each deserve. Something we have failed to deliver on. Why you may ask? Honestly, it’s because you deserved regular updates of substance, not salesmanship; full details, not fluff.”

The email goes on to say that a further update will follow on August 11th, when the company will provide delivery timelines and details.

Well, that update did arrive but it did not make its backers any happier. In fact it’s left many people upset and requesting refunds.

“We’re here with the update you’ve wanted and deserve,” it read.

“We have some big news to share on multiple fronts. Firstly, we’re excited to be able to finally announce that LVL has just closed a Series A funding round led by Samsung and other top tier strategic investors in the semiconductor, wearable and manufacturing industries that will help us bring LVL technology to market.”

“This is a tremendous milestone for the company (and all of you), bringing not only financial security but also technical expertise, networks and resources that will help us succeed.”

The gist of the rest of the email is that the development of LVL is delayed and the earliest backers can expect to receive their device is next summer. This means, instead of the originally planned June release date, there is now at least a one year delay. The email goes into quite a bit more detail, but it seems that the company has realised that the previous designs were not capable of both delivering all the promised features and also being manufactured at scale.

Now, while support from Samsung and additional funds certainly sounds like good news, the one year delay did not go down well with its backers. Its pretty clear that trust has all but evaporated. We received emails from some of them.

“People are furious, as this campaign has failed to live up to any of its promises – including the promise to post frequent and honest updates,” one of them read.

“People want their money back. They feel like they’re either giving interest-free loans to this company for several years – or that we’re not going to see anything at all.”

You can read the Kickstarter comments on this link.

A year is a long time to wait. And this is the problem with crowdfunding. We’re not saying this is what happened in this case, but many times companies over-promise and advertise unrealistic product delivery schedules in order to draw people into supporting their product. We’ve seen it happen quite a few times.

Crowdfunding, via websites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, has been used to fund a wide range of entrepreneurial ventures such as artistic and creative projects, medical expenses, travel, or community-oriented social entrepreneurship projects. Some campaigns have been more successful that others, both in attracting funds and delivering on their promises.

And this is important to keep in mind if you decide to participate in a project. There are no guarantees and in many cases it is not likely you will receive a refund. It is a risky venture.

LVL will be doing a formal press release shortly to share the news officially with the general press and public at large.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

4 thoughts on “LVL, the first hydration tracking wearable delayed till summer 2018

  • I think part of the challenge is that the creators specifically mentioned in the campaign that they had working prototypes, and that the Kickstarter money would be to help bring this to mass production. Were the prototypes not real? The claim now is that they need more money to bring it to life – but there is no indication why the earlier prototype couldn’t be used, or exactly what the $1.2 million dollars has been used for.

    People invested in this campaign because BSX had a previous (successful) campaign under their belts, and they checked off a lot of the boxes about finding a trusted company to invest in. The lack of earlier transparency (they clearly knew about issues for months) and the recent Aug 11 update (mic-drop) to backers, with very little empathy for the people that have already been waiting a year – is the primary problem.

    I’ve seen in the comments that some people purchased 5 or more devices – and will now be waiting over 2 years for delivery, that is – if it happens at all.

    The creators are being very odd here. Since the update last week, they’ve again gone silent on backers, and have not publicly addressed any of the feedback and questions on the Kickstarter platform – which is where communications are supposed to take place.

  • Total fraud, they lied about everything in their campaign. They said they only needed 50k to go to production, since they had a fully working and validated prototype. $1.2 million dollars and a year later they want another year and backers are most likely not going to see anything since Samsung got into the picture and might use the tech for their own devices. It’s a total scam since they had the pre-orders open on their website until July with an August 2017 promise of delivery, only to change that to 2018 a week later, it’s not like the delay suddenly happened, they were just trying to scam as much cash as they could from unaware buyers before releasing the delay news.


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