BSX LVL Hydration Sensor: Does it actually exist? Oh, and BSX Insight is dead.


A year ago when BSX announced they were launching a new product – LVL – it seemed like the company might have shifted from a relatively niche market of muscle oxygen sensors, to what would have been a far more widespread and profitable category: hydration sensors.

While athletes would see hydration sensor technology as useful for training or racing, the actual applications here are far wider reaching than endurance racing.  Instead, such technology could be used in challenging environments where hydration can literally mean life or death.  It’d be easy to see healthcare providers, manufacturing, agricultural field workers, firefighters, as well as even military interests in the product.  Any one of which are more profitable than a bunch of endurance athletes running around in their swim suits.

But recently, a lot of has come into question about where the company actually stands with that product.  Not to mention their existing products.  To sum up things up: BSX killed their existing Insight sensor lineup, they delayed LVL a year, they let go of key staff, and oh, LVL isn’t actually measuring hydration.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

LVL – A Conflicted Journey:


Over the past two months I’ve talked with current and former employees of BSX – including their CEO, which has helped me piece together a more clear picture of where they stand.  And unfortunately, there’s little good news anywhere in here.

When I first posted about BSX about a year ago, things looked both positive, albeit on stretched out timelines.  The company had shown data that illustrates their sensor tech could determine hydration status when compared against the ‘gold standard’ for that particular field.  They’d been gathering data from real-world athletes testing this new sensor for quite some time.  They even offered to let me go through the test if I happened to be in Austin.

And all sounded good on the science side, but that’s not the concern I had.  As I noted in my post at the time, it was getting that science to fit in a much smaller package. Here’s what I said then:

“But the next piece is ensuring it’s accurate once miniaturized down to the tiny size of the wearables you see in this post.


As I noted earlier on, the company sent me a mockup to check-out.  But it’s just that: A mock-up.  There’s nothing real inside of it, and for some tech companies getting from prototypes to miniaturized can be far more difficult than anticipated.  Hopefully with their past experience, they’ve set reasonable timeframes.”

See, everything up until this point had been done on larger prototype devices, slightly smaller than a deck of cards.  These photos show off this unit from Kickstarter updates last October.


This is completely normal for tech companies to iterate on large devices that are easier to tweak in prototype stages.  It’s not until much later that you start to focus on miniaturization, though certainly you’d have planned to get to that point.  Their goal-point was this size:


And that’s where things started to fall apart.  The images you saw of devices – and the devices I showed last summer (as I noted at the time) were conceptual devices.  They weren’t real, nor did they have anything in them.  In fact, BSX notes this in their August update video showing a range of current functional prototypes.  None of which are anywhere near the size of what they had hoped to deliver this summer:


But even ignoring the size of those prototypes, they don’t actually measure hydration directly.  Instead, what they were trying to measure shifted with the winds over the past year.  Initially, at the outset of the campaign, they were actually measuring blood flow, and not hydration itself.  Their thinking being that they could use blood flow as a proxy for hydration.  And that worked quite well according to the results you saw, and what was validated by third parties.


(Above: From their initial Kickstarter campaign launch page)

Except it turns out there was a catch that we weren’t aware of.  While the test labs ran a protocol that had athletes and individuals go through a series of things, including heat, to induce water loss – the actual measurement comparison to gold standards was mostly only done at rest.  Meaning, before and after the activity to cause sweat loss.

Which wasn’t to say that LVL’s larger prototypes couldn’t measure the blood flow (not hydration, but blood flow changes) during exercise – it could.  But that blood flow shifted during exercise already, such that you effectively broke the proxy you were trying to use.

Imagine seeing the data from a water gauge on a man-made canal every few minutes, and then seeing a rise in the water gauge data.  Is that rise because it’s raining out?  Or is that rise because someone upstream opened up the floodgates?  Or is it because someone physically took the water gauge ball and lifted it up?

Those are all the challenges here with measuring blood flow as a proxy.  Hydration could be an issue, but by exercising that increases blood flow and makes you look more hydrated than you are.  Similarly, simply raising your arm would fool the sensor.

I asked Dustin Freckleton (MD), CEO of BSX in August a rather straightforward question about this: “Are you directly measuring hydration at this point, or are you using something else as a proxy?”:

“We use a platform that uses multiple different sensing capabilities. We discovered that there’s a lot of value in not only the water signals, you know blood is largely comprised of water, and in BSX Insight we measure things in the blood.  There’s a lot of water content signal in there.  That water, because we’re a semi-closed system and comprised primarily of water, affects a lot of other things. So it’s sort of a multifaceted approach to be able to measure the hydration.  And to surface those experiences around the dehydration losses and the re-hydration needs most accurately.”

So while BSX did tons of these tests – hundreds likely, the flaw was that they weren’t really measuring what you want.  In talking with Dustin he alludes to some of this:

“We take continuous measurements all throughout the entire course.  Depending on the gold standard you’re using, whether you’re using blood, urine, or weight, whatever it is.  Those just have functionality limitation of how often you can take a comparative gold standard measurement.  But that’s one of the benefits of an optical platform is that you don’t have those limitations so you can take continuous measurements.”

As a result of this, BSX changed directions this past spring to focus instead on figuring out if you were drinking or not.  No, not just drinking alcohol to drown your LVL sorrows away, but rather, drinking at all.  They actually wanted to know if you were taking a cup of water against your lips and consuming it.  The measurement of hydration on the body was pushed aside, with instead the goal of trying to capture using the wrist band when you drank something.

Teams of BSX employees would literally sit around all day and test ‘fake drinking’ actions like fixing their hair, or smoking, or wiping their face.  Of course, the flaw here is obvious on so many levels: A wrist-band can only capture what that wrist does.  So even the most advanced algorithms in the world won’t capture your drinking from the other wrist…or using a straw. Never mind that sweat-loss is the biggest factor of hydration, which isn’t accounted for with this.

This continued for months.  In asking the CEO about this, he admitted:

“We continued to explore all aspects of hydration, both at a science level as well as at a product level, to make sure we understand every facet and component of it.  From the perspective of drinking.  Hydration is affected by drinking, the primary input source.  So a natural curiosity is looking at the input side of things and understanding how people drink, when people drink, how much do people drink, and trying to track these events through a variety of different ways.  I think it’s really about the holistic approach we take to our R&D endeavors.”

These new developments didn’t sit well with numerous employees in the company, who didn’t see it as looking at more facets – but simply changing directions altogether.  Many were upset about this new direction, which essentially shifted it away from the entire point of what LVL was promised – a hydration sensor – and instead to just another has-been wearable.

And even in that realm, things are troublesome.  The LVL device was set to measure other attributes like heart rate – which is largely considered the norm among wearables today.  While I routinely dive into the details of how inaccurate optical HR sensor products can be (while others are awesome), it doesn’t sound like BSX was anywhere even close with the heart rate functionality in LVL.  They only started getting basic HR numbers in July, and according to those present – the numbers were rarely accurate, even at rest.

In asking Dustin about where exactly HR accuracy stood when last discussed in August, he said:

“I can’t really speak directly to that, as a lot of work that we’re doing is in process on that and we have new alpha prototypes that we’re receiving shortly and will be validating on.”

After talking with individuals both past and present at the company, past updates start to become more clear.  When viewed in this light even the most innocent of activities seen in an update appears to fall apart.  Take the below screenshots from a recent video update:


You might presume these individuals were doing testing of devices, as there was someone with a clipboard next to people on bikes and treadmills.  Except, not likely. They just started their session 30 seconds prior (as seen on the display) – just enough time to capture some b-roll footage.  And despite normally also transmitting metrics like heart rate – the PeriPedal footage shows they aren’t doing that at all (it’s null for HR).


The person on the bike has sensors on his wrists, but the test screen implies they’ve been riding for 7 hours and 57 minutes.  Meaning, no actual test is occurring here.  Of course – they aren’t on a test bike, but rather just one of the employee’s single speed commuting bikes tossed on the trainer.  Had they been riding for 7 hours and 57 minutes, don’t you think they’d be a bit tired looking?


And again – there’s no sweat on the mat as shown in a close-up earlier in the video.

And this shot of them carefully adjusting the prototype-looking LVL for the person on the treadmill? That band is actually empty.  As they noted at the beginning of the video, they have no functional prototypes anywhere near that small yet.  All of the actual ‘units’ they have are the huge bulky things we saw up earlier in the post, as well as seen under the pink wrist tape on the treadmill.


Not to mention none of the functional wearable test units shown in the video have changed appreciably for the smaller since last fall.

All of the actual science portions are done by a separate team based outside the state that have no meaningful interactions or communications with the rest of the employees at the company, except the founders.  In fact, a recent post on the company’s Kickstarter page by a current BSX representative confirms this in the first sentence:

“Our engineers are a separate team. The two teams work closely together. As with the science behind the BSXinsight that is internal and private that has not been published we are not currently sharing the science behind LVL.”

This goes to explain a bit about why the employees in Texas are largely performing fluff science on LVL – doing things to be kept busy while making little forward progress on the hard piece: Making it accurate.

The bigger question is where they go from here.  BSX had been actively courting investors over the course of the last year, and finally landed Samsung this summer.  That investment bought out the company’s existing debt, and would give it enough cash to operate until next spring.

(Side Note/Rant: One common complaint I’ve seen from Kickstarter backers recently is being upset about a company courting backers for extra funding.  That thinking is incredibly misguided.  First off, most Kickstarter projects these days assume a specific level of funding in addition to Kickstarter.  Said differently, the world doesn’t actually revolve around Kickstarter’s raised funds.  Often Kickstarter is a fraction of the total funding required to operate a company.  And that’s OK.  Second, you want extra investment in your Kickstarter project, because it generally means that smart people in the industry have looked at the project and believe it can be a success.  These people have often actually been to the company and met with the employees, seen the products, and deemed it viable.  That’s all a good thing for consumers, as it raises your chances of both getting a final product, as well as having a company that can sustain itself long term.  I’d be far more concerned when Kickstarter companies can’t find external investors, as that implies something is likely wrong that’s not visible on a Kickstarter page.  In the case of BSX, they did have other investors prior to Kickstarter.)

The Samsung investment was announced internally to the company on July 28th, but within days it became clear to employees all is not quite as rosy as it seemed.  This investment wasn’t a blank check from Samsung to BSX, rather, it came with specific milestones each quarter stretching from now until next spring.  Failure to reach a milestone would result in funding being terminated.

The first milestone?  BSX had to prove they could “show hydration volume loss”, within 90 days (the end of October).  That’s the same thing that they said a year ago they could already do last fall.  In talking with those familiar, the Samsung milestone doesn’t appear to be tied to a miniaturization-sized unit, rather, just to demonstrate that they could measure hydration at all.

And that’s what this is all about – actually measuring hydration across a wide variety of scenarios.  Not measuring blood flow.  Employees do believe this is possible, but whether or not BSX can achieve this goal is debatable – even internally.  In talking to Dustin, the CEO, he 100% believes the company can get there.  But there’s significant disagreement among the remaining players (a number of which have left) as to whether this is possible – even with tens of millions in of additional funding that doesn’t exist and years more development time.

Dustin noted that he certainly wasn’t happy with the situation they find themselves in.

“Unfortunately, this was a much more difficult problem to solve and doing it at a larger scale, had more nuances that we didn’t fully appreciate, and we’ve had to deal with that.  My perspective is it absolutely sucks we’re not able to ship this year.  A tremendous amount of internal work was done to align all the business activities to coincide with that date.  And it’s something that I have to deal with on a daily basis.

Now that we have the technology through several levels of validation, we have partners from the engineering world, from the semi-conductor world, from the manufacturing world – we’ve gone through a lot of the heart ache, that learning process, that growth.  We feel much more confident now not only in what we know, but in the team that’s around us internally and the greater team to help us to be able to execute on that strategy.”

Note that at this time only Kickstarter backers have been notified of the delay, not pre-order backers that used the separate page outside of Kickstarter, of which there are approximately 1,000.  Those individuals can still refund their money, since product has not yet been delivered.  Whereas in Kickstarter, there is no direct promise of a product – despite Kickstarter’s heavy insinuation otherwise.

Were the timelines ever real?


Of course, a bigger question is whether or not the initial Summer 2017 date given to Kickstarter backers was ever real to begin with.  According to at least one employee, BSX held a company-wide meeting last fall in the middle of the Kickstarter campaign, which showed slides about numerous milestones.  On that slide deck it listed the prototype validation phase being completed by the end of 2017 (yes, 2017) – nearly 6 months after the announced ship date (the ship date wasn’t listed on these slides, a strangely huge omission for any company).

When questioned by employees about the differences, the two founders reasoned that missing dates were “just how Kickstarter works”.  When pressed further by employees, it was noted that a more realistic date may be ‘2018’. Of course, it’s one thing to miss a date due to delays, and another to announce one date publicly and then have a different date for a year later, internally.

In talking with other external entities/partners, they also received similar hints that same fall that shipping wouldn’t be occurring in the summer 2017 timeframe either.

For example, BSX’s external PR agency (TRUE Communications), said it became clear almost immediately after the campaign closed that things weren’t as they seemed.  TRUE Communications is well respected by both manufacturers and journalists, and represents many sports tech brands in the industry, such as Wahoo Fitness, MIPS, Strava, Stages, OMATA, and Giro.

In discussions with Mark Riedy of TRUE Communications, he started having doubts when another planned PR/media event was canceled the morning of, due to issues with the demo not working ‘dependably’.  This was after Mark had flown to Boulder, CO to demo it in front of reporters that same morning.  This happened towards the end of the campaign.

The two organizations held a conference call the week after the campaign closed, with the PR’s agency aim to put together a plan to take advantage of the media interest and put together dates for outsiders to test the device in a few months time.

Shortly thereafter, BSX informed TRUE Communications and Mark’s team that they weren’t going to deliver products anytime soon and thus didn’t need the company’s assistance for a while.  Since then, TRUE Communications says they’ll likely no longer take on crowd-funding campaigns due to the risk.  They no longer have any desire to work with BSX or LVL.

Insight is Dead:


Meanwhile, for existing owners of the BSX Insight devices, you’ll be displeased to know that your clock is ticking.  In early August BSX staff sent out notices to retailers informing them that BSX would stop sales of the devices as well as support next year.  After those e-mails were sent out, the Insight sales and marketing staff were let go.  Here’s a snippet of that letter sent to retailers:

“As BSX Athletics moves forward in progression we have made the decision to stop production of the BSXinsight at this time. This will allow our company to put all of our efforts into LVL. No new orders will be taken at this time for BSXinsights.

Rest assured that our team will uphold all warranties for first owners of sold BSXinsights for their 365 day warranty or up to August 2018 for any sold after September 2017.”

But after August 2018? Well…that’s questionable.  Much of the BSX Insight app depends on both the phone app to start the device, and the backend web platform to process the data.  Without both of those, you’re kinda hosed.  The only functional solution is to use Wahoo’s ELEMNT or ELMNT BOLT, which do support triggering and recording from the BSX Insight without any platform/mobile requirement.

In my discussions with Dustin about this back in August, he seemed open to finding a solution for BSX users.  One option could be a beta Garmin Connect IQ app that was being prepared allowing one to start/start the sensor from their wrist.  I suggested that app’s source code could be released to Github, enabling the community to develop it.  Similarly, finding a way to keep the backend server maintained would also be critical.  Given the low cost of web hosting (likely tens of dollars per month at most for a population size of Insight units), it would seem a pretty easy thing to do.  And certainly a minor token of goodwill to the backers that ultimately gave him the company we see today.u

Dustin committed to me that by early September he’d put together clarity around this and the plan forward.  That hasn’t happened yet.  Nor has any communication to end users occurred about the pending closure.

(Note: All BSX’s various social media platforms have been renamed to LVL, so while no longer under their original names, they and all previous content is still there.)

Going Forward:


The BSX LVL story demonstrates in many ways why you should always treat crowd funded products like a lottery ticket: It’s 100% possible you’ll get nothing out of it.  Meaning that you should always think of the money you ‘invest’ in Kickstarter or similar as lost.  If you happen to get something out of it at the end of the day – great – but otherwise, one should consider it dead until proven otherwise.

It’s an unfortunate way to approach such products, but time and time again we’ve seen epic failures in the crowd funded realm.  This is hardly the first, and most certainly won’t be the last.

At the same time, there’s plenty of incredible technology (and otherwise) companies to point to that did start from crowd funded origins that are now healthy and successful companies.  Thus, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

With that – thanks for reading!

(Yes, I confirmed that tattoo is real. One of the founders tattooed themselves following the successful funding of the campaign.)


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  1. The entire bsxinsight.com site was down earlier this morning for several hours, which also prevented people from using the app (I confirmed on the Android version) to start the Insight. I realized when I bought mine a year ago that the lactate thresholds were completely dependent on the web platform, but I had no idea that the entire unit required that same web platform, or another $400 piece of hardware.

    • Yeah, it was down for about a day (yesterday evening till late afternoon my time). While a temporary outage, it highlights two issues:

      A) Nobody is paying attention anymore, as even free uptime services would have easily caught and alerted on it far sooner.

      B) The dependency on that platform, and how quickly it makes the hardware basically a rock.

  2. Adam

    Interesting write up, though unfortunate to hear.

    A couple corrections:

    1. “Of course, the flow here is obvious on so many levels” – I think flow should be flaw.

    2. The software displayed is PeriPedal, not PerfPro.

  3. Donald Barnes

    So *is* there any functional hydration level device on the market? If so, what?

    • Matt B

      A haematocrit centrifuge and urine refractometer. Though they’re not exactly portable, or practical outside of a lab setting.

    • ReHMn

      Body composition monitors all measure body hydration. It is expressed in % and as a mass too.
      Personally I am using a Tanita – 910XT combo since 2009. But Omron, Garmin and many more companies made their own BC scales.

      Hydrataion measurement as wearable?
      Ray, please wake me up when Scosche’s next generation optical HRM is combined with hydration measurement and it is available on a market. I would buy it, however I will never get rid of Tanita…

    • Dan

      Your brain does a jolly good job of monitoring hydration.

      ‘Drink to thirst’ works. Yes, you’ll likely become slightly dehydrated during exercise if you do that — but it doesn’t affect performance.

      I really can’t see a practical reason for portable, continuous, non-invasive monitoring of hydration. What next, a device which tells you to breathe harder?

    • The problem is, our brains don’t do a good job of that in extreme circumstances. Sure, every day sitting around an office – great.

      For example, go off and do an Ironman race. The biggest reason people fail on the run is not hydrating and eating enough on the bike. Your brain forgets to drink at the rate it needs to, and by time you get around to doing so, it’s usually far too late from a performance standpoint. There’s plenty of studies on hydration loss and impacting performance. This is even more true when athletes not used to warmer/hotter climates go into those climates on race day.

      The entire (literally, all of it) ‘drink to thirst’ thing is just Noakes. That’s it. It ignores countless studies that show the impact of dehydration on performance. And Noakes puts out countless articles around the web trying to push his theory. Plenty people with more more scientific credentials and data have shown his theories just don’t…umm…hold water.*

      But let’s take a different tact from sports, military applications. If you’ve done any work in the Middle East with various military units, you’d know that they’re constantly trying to ensure soldiers to drink water and stay hydrated (and thus in good health). It’s easy to get distracted with other (obviously more important) things, but at the end of the day, if you’re out in 110*F temps, it doesn’t take much. The idea of being able to have oversight of hydration status across a bunch of soldiers is hugely appealing to the military…if it worked. Or even if it mostly worked.

      All of which then ignores plenty of other medical related opportunities as well (again, if it worked).

      And that’s the thing: The money here wasn’t in sports, it was in medical/healthcare and military. Tons and tons of money.

      (*Yes, I do get that over-hydration is also a thing, but let’s not get sidetracked here.)

    • rob lewis

      Thanks these comments have turned into a really good debate.
      As you highlight this a complex problem relevent to healthcare, military as well as sports applications.
      It is the fact that despite vast resources (especially military) that technology has not been succesfully developed that can work out hydration status, tells you a small start up company is unlikely to have cracked the proverbial nut. If they had, one would expect to see a raft of scientific/academic papers to back up the whole process.
      As for Noakes, it is not correct to say that “drink to thirst” is just a Noakes thing. Exercise induced hyponatraemia is a very real phenomenom, particulary in amateur sports and is growing in frequency. About 10-15% of marathon runs have been shown to have it and i have admitted patients to Intensive care with exercise induced hyponatraemia and seizures. A lot of marathon runners especially in temparate climates would be far better served by drink to thirst rather than drinking to a shedule.
      On the background of it all we need to remember that the human body evolved in a desert climate, is incredible adapt at controlling its homeostasis and conserving salt and water and there are lots of factors not just fluid status that lead to poor performance, to collapse or worse in endurance events especially those at high temparatures.

  4. Ryan M.

    Wow. I’m a backer of LVL (and probably 30+ other Kickstarter items) and am certainly used to the delays/slight pivots, but this is the shadiest I have seen a company act.

    Glad I tend to file my kickstarter pledges away in the back of my mind so I don’t get worked up over them if it fails.

    Ray – Any chance you have looked into CorSense? EliteHRV has been terrific on their communication so far. We will see if they can hit their goal.

  5. GreenPlease

    I was an early supporter of BSX backing their Kickstarter and parroting their campaign on Slowtwitch. I genuinely thought they had a good idea for a useful sensor. Unfortunately, their execution and customer service has been abysmal at best. My first gen Insight was useless and their CS was so poor that I didn’t even bother to give the second generation a try.

  6. Howie

    Thanks, Ray, for keeping us updated on the latest with BSX.
    Disappointing news for sure regarding BSX Insight.

  7. Kevin Conover

    Thanks for keeping us informed, Ray. My Dr. had me make several lifestyle changes about 6 years ago, including eating better, running, loosing weight, meds and monitoring my fluids due to a medical issue. I thought that the LVL was going to go perfectly with my Garmin watch and MFP. I’m using MFP now to track water but it measures in, not out or current status. This is extremely disappointing news. maybe someday someone will come up with hydration monitoring.

  8. Kevin MacArthur

    Thanks for the update Ray.

    The issue for me as a 2nd Gen BSX user is I didn’t invest in a kickstarter campaign but I bought a fully working product. This now feels like I have been conned if the company don’t allow me to use it after they give in on it.

    Maybe I should ask for a refund!

    • Geoffrey

      I would like a refund too…got a BSX Insight 2.0 and thought “man this is pretty cool …cutting edge” and then the nightmare began and when DC said they would cease to exist a lot of things started to make sense. They orphaned the Insight (never followed through on a lot of their promises) and then started with LVL. Based on my experience with the Insight I quickly decided not to even consider the LVL (good move on my part). There were a few people in here considering buying an Insight a few months ago and a lot of of here told them not to do it considering their behavior. In light of recent news maybe some of those people didn’t lose their money like the rest of us. At least thats a positive thing.

  9. Chris

    I was a LVL backer, and that post was really hard to read. It does read like BSX have acted quite unethically in the way this was presented on Kickstarter, which I think is very disappointing. I think more needs to be done to better define how crowdfunding sites should operate. Backers lack any of the rights of investors, creditors or consumers. I think creating funding platforms that operate peer to peer with lower compliance overheads are a good thing, but more needs to be done now to ensure minimum standards of rights and protections for backers. At least some due diligence to ensure communications are honest and there is some financial liability in the event of the company backing out or evidence of dishonesty.

    • Ingo

      No offense please but everyone better start thinking for themselves again and form own opinions. If something sounds too good to be true it may well be too good to be true. Call out BS if you think it’s BS despite the backlash you will face if you happen to be the only one thinking that way at the time.

      Stay critical despite mainstream opinions telling you otherwise and everyone and their dog hyping things left and right on and off the interwebs…

      But sorry Chris, you can only blame yourself in this case. You bought into it, you backed it, it didn’t work out – such is the risk of a risk taker.

    • Chris k

      I see your point, but that’s not how risk works. If you look at KIDDs now, documents which cover the sale of assets to retail customers, you will see companies are more and more explicit about what risks you are taking, and what the return is. Even taking Ray’s lottery analogy; gambling companies in most countries have to declare the return you get for your money. If a casino machine was advertised as paying out at 95 cents per dollar, but was subsequently manipulated to pay out at 90 cents, then the operator could be prosecuted. But looking at LVL, information was presented by the company which represented the technology as working at the larger scale shown and with a realistic implementation within the year. And so a great many people formed a view of the risk associated with baking the project based on that information. This is not an irrational thing to do. One might expect information to change over time, but if the original presentation was deliberately misleading, whether through incompetence or maliciousness, then that is fraudulent and just plain unethical. This isn’t a case of taking a known risk, placing money against it and not paying out. This is a case of people being presented with an inaccurate picture of that risk and being misled into investing in a product that they might otherwise have steered clear from.

    • Ingo

      It is a known risk when investing in a largely unregulated market place. And there are remedies if indeed it is fraud: file a report with the police, the FTC or the IC3.

      Chances are you won’t see your money though because there’s no “investor protection”, no watchdog like a regulator that monitors for example the financial health of the firms it is supervising etc.

      Ventures do happen more often than not to not work out and this is just one of the many cases that unfolded here. Too bad and sorry about that but there are also many like myself you didn’t buy into their ideas.

  10. fisao

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you very much for the behind the scenes look at a company not being able to follow through, I found it very interesting.

    Quick note though:
    It is is rare for me to see you take apart a company or product (I remember LIMITS very well; and, oh boy were you right about them), am I reading too much into it or are you actually personally annoyed at the failure of BSX/LVLs failure here?

    As always, thank you for your work!

    • I’m annoyed anytime I think consumers are misled to a degree where they put out money for a product that simply doesn’t exist, or has no meaningful value once shipped (e.g. LIMITS).

      On the flipside, I’m also equally as annoyed when mainstream companies do stupid things that hurt consumers (or sometimes themselves). I’ve got plenty of past posts on those for companies like Strava, Garmin, and even Wahoo more recently.

  11. Ze

    Not surprising from the beginning, sadly, given their egregious claims for heart rate accuracy during exercise being vastly superior using red wavelength light vs green.

  12. Ryan

    What I find concerning is that you can still pre-order from their website. I did not back the kickstarter, I was late to the party. But I did pre-order several months back when they were still stating an August 2017 delivery. I wonder if a credit card company would issue a charge back.

  13. Rob Lewis

    Basically both the insight and LVL devices are useless white elephants and always will be. Anyone with any real knowledge of physiology could have told anyone that. Insight is essentially a saturation probe, technology which has been around for decades and some sort of attempt at transcutaneous co2 measurement, but co2 measurement can’t be done using LED and light absorption, its done using a severinghus electrode (pretty standard tech in an neonatal ICU but at about a $2000 per electrode and not portable. The tehcnologies have been around a long time and if could be made small cheep and mobile woud have been as there are lots of medical applications. LVL is even more comical and the descriptions above would indicate that again BSX have no genuine physiogical knowledge. Fluid balance, tissue oedema, and circulating volume are not linerly related or often even correlated. There are a number of technologies that have attempted to look accurately to look at tissue fluid content, none are currently felt to be useful and accurate enough to be used routinely in medicine. So the idea of translating this into a useful mobile continuous device is laughable in the medium term, let alone in the timescales that this company state. Tissue fluid state is not related to blood flow and may in some circumstances my actually reverse. And of course theres no clear relationship with tissue fluid status or even blood flow and performance.
    An interested critica care consultant and cyclist
    It would not be a wise investment to go anywhere near this company.

    • Gasman

      You’re absolutely spot on , Rob.

    • ReHMn

      You are wrong…
      Tissue fluid state is related to blood flow. Water is being delivered to tissues via blood.
      The effect is not immediate, however. It takes time till the water gets absorbed from intestines to blood and then utilized by tissues.
      In medicine the hydration level is not being monitored, that is true, however other parameters like Na+, K+, Cl-, albumin, HTC, ADH, ABR are. Usually, we just check the value of the hematocrit and apply intravenous 0,09% NaCl solution (called physiologic/isotonic solution) if necessary.

      Another thing is, that the athlete should know his body fluid requirements and the intervals of intake.

    • ReHMn

      Errata: One zero less…it is 0,9% NaCl solution…

    • Rob Lewis

      Tissues fluid state is not directly related to blood flow, nor HTC, albumin or any other individual marker etc We could warm you up or cool you down and it would effect your peripheral blood flow, but the fluid state of you tissues wouldn’t have changed. To work out your fluid status your brain measure plasma osmolality, stretch receptors in in various vessels, feed back loops and hormonal release in the kidney, between the pituitary and adrenal glands i could go on. Any one claiming to sum this up in a number is producing a surrogate for one of these elements but it is not the whole story.

      P.s 0.9% saline is neither physiological or isotonic but thats another story altogether,

    • ReHMn

      (not only) to me physiological or isotonic solution means that the concentration of ions are equal in intracellular and in extracellular mass/medium. Any disbalance on one side has effect on the other side.
      From this standpoint, the 0.9% saline is physiological or isotonic solution. You can check under microscope, if you put blood into this solution, no hemolysis will occur. (Despite of the demineralized water, which is hypotonic solution.)
      And by the way… in this universe effect follows cause. I’ve complained about it, but…

    • Rob Lewis

      Physiological and isotonic are distinct and different things. Your absolutely right a red blood cell won’t lyse in 0.9% saline as it’s osmolality is near enough not to cause volume expansion enough to cell to rupture, Its actually slightly hypertonic. It doesn’t on the other hand mean its either isotonic or physiological.
      If you put a red blood cell in demineralised water it will go pop like a balloon as it has an osmolality of zero.
      Normal plasma osmolality is 280-290mmosmol/ml, plasma Na+ 135-145mmol/ml, K+ 3.5-4.5, Chloride 98-108, pH 7.35-7.45.
      0.9% Saline has an osmolality of 308mmosmol/ml Na 154mmol/ml and Chloride of 154mmol/ml and has a pH of 5.3. So unphysiological is 0.9%saline we can easily detect the acid base effects, respiratory function, reduction in renal blood flow and urine output, effect on blood clotting after a single litre bag of fluid.
      oh and i saw in an earlier comment you say you use a Tanita. That measures impedence and then makes a whole load of assumptions to given you a number, its not measuring hydration. One measurement multiplied by a whole load of assumptions does not another measurement make!

    • Dan

      Great posts, very interesting.

      One thing though: I’ve personally never seen a Tanita give a duff reading of body fat (when compared to skin folds). It is interesting that, as a technique based upon lots of assumptions, it does work. So it can happen sometimes.

      I don’t think Insight or Moxy were a million miles off in their determination of lactate thresholds either. I was party to testing Moxys versus finger prick testing, and it was reasonable — but no better than RPE, talk tests, or other simple expressions of personal sensation.

      LVL isn’t going to happen.

    • rob lewis

      Lets think how body fat estimation works using bioimpedence. The resistence to current changes with various tissues, which can simplistically be split into three groups, Fat, highwater containing tissues including your blood volume and low water containing tissue such as bone. If you know a persons sex, age and height you can make a very good estimation of the low water containing tissues as these are in all real terms fairly fixed with those three factors and you can essentially look them up on a table. This tissue does really conduct current in any meaningful way, so a bit of simple maths gives you a body mass that conducts essentially. As the water content of most tissues is very high (excluding fat) and hence conducts pretty well, along with lab studies measuring tissue impedence of both these tissue and fat. If you know what the overall impedence is you can then calculate the ratio of fat tissue to high water content tissue and hence get a pretty close measure of body fat. Thats not too difficult. What is difficult is then any attempt to extrapolate that into anything meaningful about plasma, tissue or overall fluid state.
      A simple example would be. You get on a plane and do a long haul flight, you don’t drink much water, have a couple of drinks, go to the toilet a couple of times, but when you look down at your feet they are puffy and oedematous (because youve been sitting down for 8+ hours). If you measured the local fluid content in you ankle it would say your overhydrated, but other markers, such as you weight and thirst would say your dehydrated. Here in lies the problem, there is no simple answer to a very complex problem.

    • ReHMn

      Hi Rob, Ray, folks…

      Sorry for my late response, I was doing much more joyful things then following the discussion…
      So very shortly a few things to add:

      1. Donald Barns asked a simple question: “So *is* there any functional hydration level device on the market? If so, what?”
      My answer was a body composition monitors. They do measure body hydration, which is not specific to intracellular or extracellular hydration, but is general, taken as whole.
      The methodology was not a question here, whether Doppler effect or impedance.
      I shared my experience, but I am not BC engineer, if this wasn’t suspicious from my avatar.
      Various device comparison and accuracy testing is Ray’s job here. Really, that’s what he does…

      2. Physiologic = isotonic = isoosmotic. Period.

      3. “Saline has an osmolality of 308mmosmol/ml Na 154mmol/ml and Chloride of 154mmol/ml and has a pH of 5.3”.
      Don’t play your Rock ‘n Roll to me!!!
      Salt doesn’t react with water, it dissolve to Cl- anions and Na+ cations. Where would the H+ come from?
      pH is the negative decadic logarithm of oxonium ions. pH = -lg [H3O+]
      You can put as many salt NaCl into water, the pH will remain 7, neutral. Blame Sorensen…

      4. The transport of the ions through the semipermeable membrane is a passive action, both “in vivo” and “in vitro”.
      However tissues “in vivo” have a mechanism to compensate the osmotic gradient.

      5. The intracellular and extracellular concentration of the ions are the same, the ratio is opposite. And with an option to compensate it, mentioned in a paragraph above.

    • Rob Lewis

      Not my “Rock ‘n Roll”
      Just pick up a bag of 0.9% saline of the shelf in any hospital and it will tell you all of what i said on its packaging.

      salt does dissolve in water but water is not a fixed constant of H20 it in an equilibrium with H+ and OH-. The more of a salt, any salt, you add to water the more you change that dissociation.
      NaCL + H20 = NaOH + HCL = Na+ + OH- + H+ +Cl-

      oh look free H+ ions hence increasing H+ and a decreasing pH
      If water did have a dissociation equilibrium then it wouldn’t have any measurable H+ ions and would have no pH!
      Dissolve some Co2 in water and you get acid water but you haven’t added any hydrogen ion just made them more available

      and pH =-lg [H+] not [H30+], you can’t get H30+ as oxygen only has 2 valance points hence why you get 02, H20, C02, you can’t add a 3rd hydrogen ion to oxygen.

      Interesting as it may be, this has all gone rather off the plot of the article.
      this is physiochemistry not sports technology!

    • ReHMn

      Wrong and wrong doesn’t make you a right…

      In water, Oxygen has 2 pair of non-bounding electrons with huge electronegativity, with leaning to get anything with a free proton, in our case the H+.

      Strong acids reacting with strong bases result a neutral salt! Remember this now and forever!
      NaOH + HCl –> NaCl + H2O (no free H+)

      “If water did have a dissociation equilibrium then it wouldn’t have any measurable H+ ions and would have no pH!” – incorrect statement, puppy!!!!!!!!

      Water has a dissociation equilibrium and has a pH, it’s value is 7…

      Water’s dissociation constant is K = [H3O+] . [OH-]
      Increasing the temperature, the concentration will increase also, but the ratio remain the same, all this expressed in a formula:
      [H3O+] . [OH-] = 10^-14 (mol/dm3)2

      It allows us to calculate the another, if only one’s concentration is known:
      [H3O+] . [OH-] = 10^-7 . 10^-7 (mol/dm3)2

      Here comes the nagative decadic logarithm, to make the formula easier:
      pH = -lg [H3O+]
      pOH = -lg [OH-]

      ending at the general equation:
      pH + pOH = 7 + 7

      from which the pH is used as indicator.

      You can go now, basic chemistry lesson is over…
      And don’t come back for more!

    • rob lewis

      “If water did have a dissociation equilibrium then it wouldn’t have any measurable H+ ions and would have no pH!”
      Thanks for the chemistry lesson, but not really required

      “Did” is an obvious typo should have been “didn’t”, (in the context of what else was written. it is precisely because it does have a dissociation equilibrium and hence why adding a salt changes the available [H+]
      If you want to back to Sorenson he described pH as
      pH=-log[H+] and the K of water as
      Kw=[H+][OH-] from the eqilibrium equation of a single water molecule
      H2O=H+ + OH-.

      As for the strong acids and bases, Na and Choride are classed as strong ions as they are fully dissociated (relevent pHs to human physiology) and hence adding strong ions to water changes the dissociation equilibrium and hence increasing the number of freely available protons [H+], whether the proton is truely “free” is i accept questionable, but from a classical point of view and for describing most reactions it is easiest to think of it that way.

      Back to the original point. 0.9%saline isn’t physiological and has a pH of around 5
      just google it!
      And so far off sports tech
      Would have added a picture of a bag of the shelf this morning but it won’t let me. so its now my picture!

    • rob lewis

      picture worked!

    • ReHMn

      First, you questioned the isotonicity of a 0,9% saline, now you are arguing with pH 5 on a picture.

      Wrong again on your equations, with incorrect arguments, even if pH might be right…

      “during the sterilization step a small amount of hydrochloric acid may leach out resulting in a slightly acidic solution with a pH of 4.5 – 7.0.”

      Source: link to baxterhealthcare.com.au

      another study on this says:
      “Pure distilled water has a pH of 7 at 25C. However, in contact with the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is absorbed and the pH falls. We can work out that the pH of water exposed to atmospheric pCO2 should be approximately 5.65; this is indeed close to what we find for both water and 0.9% saline solutions.”

      link to medsci.org

      At least you can blame someone else on this.

      … and the biggest bullshit… “As for the strong acids and bases, Na and Choride are classed as strong ions as they are fully dissociated (relevent pHs to human physiology) and hence adding strong ions to water changes the dissociation equilibrium and hence increasing the number of freely available protons [H+], whether the proton is truely “free” is i accept questionable, but from a classical point of view and for describing most reactions it is easiest to think of it that way.”

      Why are doing this to me?
      I asked you to memorize, that strong acids with strong basis result a neutral salt, because both the anions and cations stay dissociated.
      B+ + H2O –> B+ + H2O
      A- + H2O –> A- + H2O

      Other two options are the reaction of
      strong acid + weak base
      weak acid + strong base.

      Now, lets take for instance the reaction of a weak acid + strong base.
      Cation B+, because it is strong, stays dissociated: B+ + H2O –> B+ + H2O
      On the other hand, anion A- is weak to stay dissociated, so it will react with water:
      A- + H2O HA + OH-

      all together with a hydrolytic constant of the water, we will end up at formula:
      pH = 7 + 1/2logCBA + 1/2pKA
      So, the result of the pH >7, because the anion of the acid with it’s electronegativity is capable and will bond H+ from water.

      I think you might be an economist or lawyer. Those folks stick to their statements even if they are wrong. And also they are able to make money from lies…

    • Su-Chong Lim

      Hey @ReHMn: your solid grasp of inorganic and possibly some organic chemistry is not in question. But despite the seeming ignorance of rob lewis and gasman, their somewhat contradictory (to you) conclusions can be explained by the fact that the physical chemistry knowledge base that you have just demonstrated is merely the prerequisite to the additional expertise in applied biochemistry, physiology, biochemistry, respirology, nephrology, etc that they have had to absorb in their trajectory to reach this point.

      Trust me, these guys know their stuff in detail, but it may be complicated to explain. Remember their everyday work involves looking after very sick humans, so knowing the intimate details of their chemistry in real time is very pertinent to their job. Humans are rather messy bags of mostly H2O, Na+, Cl-, K+, HCO3- and a whole bunch of other ions, enzymes and complex chemicals. But it is their organization into multiple compartments separated by passive semipermeable membranes, as well as actively metabolizing ones, and multiple self-regulating systems that make their chemical behaviour so difficult to follow and to explain. Human plasma has to be kept within a very narrow range of pH — anyone outside of 7.30 to 7.50 range is usually in big trouble, if not actually dying. The presence of multiple buffering ions in body fluids might be one of the more straightforward explanations for the variance of pH from what you might expect, as well as regulatory mechanisms in the cellular and pulmonary respiratory systems, and the renal system, but there are a myriad of more subtle and complex mechanisms (this is my simple explanation as a non-specialist). The reason that they appear not to have ready explanations for the chemical oddities of biological systems (and the fluids used to treat them) is because simple ad hoc explanations are inadequate, and adequate explanations are difficult to organize in context. As well as likely to bore our long suffering other readers, as no doubt I have already done, so I’ll shut up now. But I had to acknowledge that you are not merely engaging in a pissing contest; your perplexity is sincere and understandable given your expertise, but it won’t be resolved here, unfortunately. (The admirable restraint demonstrated by rob is also noted).

    • Su-Chong Lim

      Sorry, I have to add that the reason for my long-winded intrusion was that if this explanation were to be offered by rob lewis or gasman it might be seen as self serving or even condescending (as it is, I’m reading it over and it looks clumsy and aimless); but some explanation was needed or else the impasse would have gone on interminably.

    • Su-Chong Lim


      “One thing though: I’ve personally never seen a Tanita give a duff reading of body fat (when compared to skin folds). It is interesting that, as a technique based upon lots of assumptions, it does work. So it can happen sometimes.”

      The algorithm that Tanita likely uses, similar to other non-direct, non-invasive methods would, over a large sample of properly and carefully measured subjects, and in particular, their particular sample result in a mean value that closely matches the properly and carefully measured mean value of the sample. But what is the error and the standard deviation of the error?

      The fact that “it can happen sometimes” (i.e. a value obtained that is close to the actual value) under these circumstances is not unexpected, and should not necessarily be taken as evidence of any confirmation of precision. Unfortunately, this general principle is ignored by most fitness and sports users, especially when the parameter values measured or computed are more esoteric and thus poorly understood in the first place and rarely encountered by the user on a first hand, real world and meaningful context. Essentially the consumer is presented with a series of values that he/she has no way of questioning or evaluating. Think VO2max, Lactate threshold, HRV, running efficiency metrics, cycling stroke efficiency metrics, and in this discussion, body composition. The idea that a reliable and adequately precise extrapolation from impedance-hacked BC values can be made towards an actionable quantitative dehydration status determination is clearly not viable.

      Mind you, if you obtain BC values from your Tanita and you track these values under stable standardized conditions (e.g. nude post-void readings first thing in the morning, not including values taken soon after extreme races) you will get a reasonable indication of the direction and degree of change of your body fat percentage, as long as you don’t take the absolute values too seriously. But then you could get the same information with plain old serial daily nude weight measurements, which is what I do.

      At least this way one can arrive at a reasonably accurate baseline of nude post-void body weight that you can write on your race number in case of the need for medical intervention. Unfortunately, at least in the races I’ve encountered, I have some misgivings about the degree of precision anticipated, because they never ask for nude weight, but rather “weight with race gear on”, which suggests a rather looser degree of precision than I am providing them. I’m not sure to what degree their estimation of dehydration status would suffer as a result of this. But at least it’s based on real weight measurements.

    • ReHMn

      Well, you can not argue with wrong theoretical knowledge on a practical/real facts.
      If something is showing different values then expected, then a root cause has to be investigated…why is reality different then theory?

      That’s what Ray does with devices.
      I do the same, just instead of devices with humans. Wasn’t this suspicious from my avatar?
      I hate when something is explained/justified with untrue arguments. That really knocks out my safety fuses…

      Human body has compensation mechanism to balance respiratory/metabolic acidosis.
      …and the correct plasma pH value should be 7,34 – 7,44.

      You do not have to remind me, I was facing it every day:
      Dying is easy, living is hard!

      All the chemical reactions and facts I mentioned above are a subject of a secondary grammar school lessons. If you do not have those fundamentals, do not go study medicine.

      IMO the misunderstanding here was in technology and saline production.
      I call it alibism, that’s what pharma companies do. To cover themselves they list a range of pH 4,5 – 7 for saline.
      link to medicines.org.uk

      Within this pissing contest, IMHO we pulled here more readers, than Ray’s give away event…
      So, let’s close it. Really. For good.
      Why is 0.9% saline solution for infusion acidic, if it should be neutral?
      There are basically three kinds of factors that affect the pH of a commercial saline solution: the atmosphere, the ions in solution, and the container.

      P.S.: The maple syrup made Lionel to win Kona yesterday…

    • rob lewis

      Bored now.
      Not lawyer, Not account.
      Intensive care consultant and anaesthetist for too long to count, spend my day managing critically ill patients from infants to centenarians. managing fluids and acid base in real people in real time.
      Picture of saline was to point out despite what you said at the beginning 0.9% saline, isn’t physiological, or isotonic. It doesn’t have a normal pH, it doesn’t have normal ion concentrations, and it doesn’t have normal osmolality.

      Why if it was down to Co2 do other what we consider “balanced” iv fluids such as Hartmann’s, Ringers Lactate, Plasma light 148 or even Gelofusin have more normal pH’s and to be more physiological? Yet they are made in the same way and exposed to the same co2.

      Please read
      Stewarts text book of acid-base as it actually works and describes what we actually see.

    • ReHMn

      Excited now, very fertile discussion here!

      But we must distinguish 2 things:

      The pH of the saline in vitro.
      And the effect of the i.v. applied saline in vivo…

      In Stewart’s approach, the strong ion difference [[Na+]+[K+]+[Ca++]+[Mg++]]−[[Cl−]+[lactate−]], total weak acids (protein, phosphate etc.) and pCO2are seen as independent determinants of pH.

      Ringers lactate doesn’t have more normal pH, manufacturers list pH values 5,0 – 7,0 at 278 mOsmol / l…

    • Hahahaha


  14. Gasman

    Whenever I come across these sort of sports-medicine crossover gadgets I apply a simple test: do we use it in anaesthesia or intensive care medicine?
    If not, then that means either the technology is simply not there / reliable yet, or the thing they’re claiming to measure / manipulate simply isn’t relevant.
    Of course I have the benefit of a 20+ year career in anaesthesia to draw upon. Perhaps potential investors should consider paying a suitably experienced physician to call out the bullshit merchants in this field.

    • The problem there though is that the medical realm lags behind what’s capable in tech due to things like the FDA approval process. Of course, that process helps to weed out devices that aren’t fit for purpose – but it also keeps plenty of devices that are very fit for purpose from entering the medical space due to companies not wanting to deal with medical trials.

    • Gasman

      Yes, damn those pesky trials and regulatory authorities making sure things are safe and effective!

    • That’s not really the point I was making, which you know.

      The point is that there are instances where better tech is available, but the companies simply deem it more profitable to stay in the consumer realm than go through the multi-year journey that is the current regulatory process.

    • Rob Lewis

      Actually better tech often isn’t really available, its just that as medics we are far more sceptical as we have to justify what we use on others. We have to know it really works and that the numbers they produce are useful. For a lot of gadgets its easy to dress up a number as if it really means something, often using a surragate marker from medicine to claim it has meaning and use. Particularly when it comes to fluid physiology nothing is simple and no single number will give you an true answer, if anyone tells you it can is misled or misleading you.
      Continue the great reviews of the good, and the bad calling it as you see it though

    • Sure, I’m not talking about this tech specifically, to be clear. It’s obvious it doesn’t work.

      But there are other areas where companies haven’t bothered due to the process, where products have met or exceeded medical options.

    • Rob Lewis

      On connectivity, usablity and interoperative standards, medicine is way behind compared to sports/personal products. However on the actual technology that gives you information you can actually use. Medicine is way ahead, and is littered with companies trying to sell the next big thing who have failed and then turned to the proverbial mass market. Sure its much easier to sell to the public than a medical institution. No one is going to sue BSX,or any other company if they buy a piece of their kit and find a year later it didn’t make a blind bit of a difference, or your performance dropped a bit, however if a doctor prescribes you an unproven medicine that didn’t work or made you sicker an indefencible law suit would follow pretty quickly. Its a much higher bar that most companies, unless they are very secure in their tech and its background, wont go anywhere near it does not mean they are better than the medical tech.
      A good example of this is the use of Impendence technology to estimate fluid states, The National Institute of Clinical Exellence only supports its use in the context of research, because in reality no one really know what the numbers really mean, but anyone can go and buy a pair of weigh scales with impendence built in, doesn’t mean their are actually accurate our useful.

    • Dan

      I would love to know your opinion of HRV, Rob. I’ve not seen evidence that HRV numbers can be used to improve training outcomes by influencing training load decisions. Is there even potential for HRV to do that?

    • rob lewis

      Really not sure. I’ve not seen convincing evidence either way. All i would say is that increased HRV is associated with high parasympathetic tone and is seen more in a rested state and low HRV is seen with sympathetic activation and in the unrested and unfit state. As for training load decisions i would readily defer to others, but there is logic behind the premise.

    • Su-Chong Lim

      It was kind of obvious to me early on in the conversation the deep familiarity in applied human physiology and biochemistry enjoyed by rob lewis and gasman, although I must admit the latter’s user name was a bit of a “tell” lol. (I, too had some ICU and neonatal ICU training a generation ago, and had since maintained an interest in respirology, cardiology and exercise physiology). Ray, it’s not that these guys are just sticklers to the exacting standards of medical grade equipment (whose companies, admittedly, have had to jump formidable financial and legal hurdles before they could be part of the accepted medical monitoring landscape) but, more pertinently, they are habitually sceptical of engineering and other types of claims made in the absence of convincing evidence to back them up, especially when made by inventors with, apparently, a sketchy grasp of basic human physiology and stress. I gotta say that basically I share their scepticism, especially after a lifetime of encountering apparently reasonable claims (treatment, theory, diagnostic, etc) without evidence, that ultimately proved false.

      It is true that some leeway in precision might still allow for a successful foray into the consumer world by a product which might struggle in the medical equipment world. But I would venture to say that there isn’t that much of a leeway gap, and sometimes the non-usefulness in the medical world might be a clue as to its general non-usefulness. Besides, in the medical world a relative lack of precision (I’m using this term a little loosely, I know) does not necessarily invalidate a piece of equipment or a test; there are a myriad of medical tests (I’m including clinical as well as lab tests) whose precision is known to be not absolute, but a test might still be considered useful because of cheapness, simplicity, safety and/ or non-invasiveness, and the information thus received can be combined within a matrix of other information to arrive at a high degree of certainty regarding optimized treatment or outcome. I consider this fact before I allow myself to judge a low performing piece of exercise tech too harshly. It’s all about the current availability of alternatives and weighing the costs and benefits.

      There is also the question of the the evolving nature of the value of newly available data — think running dynamic, bicycle stroke efficiency metrics, etc — some early adopters are truly knowledgable, while the majority are merely hopeful, perhaps naive. But that uncertain mix of early users (and manufacturers) has been needed early on to get to the point where monitoring of heart rate, foot-strike cadence, pedalling cadence and pedalling power is now mainstream and reliable today.

      So I agree in the exercise tech world we can’t be totally one-sided — we have to give the promoter a chance to marshal all his results and evolving evidence, and possibly allow some leeway for knowledge not known yet, or areas ripe for future research. But I think you’ve done that here, and yes, this gadget is dead in the water.

  15. Leendert van Nieuwenhuijzen

    Regarding all the e-mail contact I have had with them over the past 12 months (always prompt and to the point); I m not that sceptical in their ability to come up with a stand alone solution (independently from their website) for the BSXinsight. If I m wrong, then the device served me well for more than a year. My mobile phone barely can keep up that long concerning hardware and software ;-)


  16. Simon gordon

    On other campaigns I’ve successfully got my credit card company to refund me on Kickstarter delivery failures !

  17. Stuart

    Disappointing, to say the least. I can forgive a lot. But I can’t forgive the lies of omission – the project’s failure to keep backers informed of what they were doing when they shifted the goalposts internally, as well as the fact that they were saying one date externally, but something completely different internally… that’s grossly unethical.

    Time to see if the credit card company will do a chargeback. It’s been a year, which means the odds aren’t that good, but it’s still worth a shot – if only to send a message to Kickstarter to hold their creators’ feet to the fire a bit more when a project is submitted for consideration.

    I guess that, in future, when looking at projects like this, I’ll be backing only if it’s on CrowdSupply – they seem to be much more in-depth with their checks before a project goes live, as well as having a greater degree of assistance available to the project in terms of design, mentoring, and industry (eg: manufacturing) contacts.

  18. Joe

    Everyone is born with a hydration sensor…it’s called your brain. It lets you know you’re dehydrated when you feel thirsty. Works pretty well in the vast majority of humans that don’t have brain damage.

    • Neil Jones

      There’s a saying: “By the time you realise you’re thirsty, it’s too late”

    • Susan

      Exactly… currently living in the hot humid south. I’ve had a couple of friends end up in the hospital and know at least one person who died because they got too hot/too dehydrated during a race when they are just thinking about pushing themselves to do their best and pushed too far. :-(

    • Joe H

      Right. So there’s a solution, drink even if you don’t feel thirsty. There are even guidelines for this that have probably been around as long as that saying. Your thirst let’s you know you’re in the red. It’s amazing that athletes have been doing this for years without a BS pseudoscience monitor to tell them to drink.

    • Dan

      Susan, do you think a number on a gadget would have made those people drink anymore than their thirst?

      In my experience, people who get into trouble in heat didn’t have water available to them. They weren’t willing to abandon the activity and get water, even though they knew they should.

      Like hypothermia, that can often lead to a situation where the person loses awareness and deteriorates rapidly.

  19. terry

    Thank you writing this in depth report. I found it interesting especially b/c I was interested in the LVL product.

  20. Bob

    Thanks for peeling back the layers on this Ray.
    You didn’t say it directly but it seems that a lack of core honesty at the heart of this organisation is what will bring them down.
    I’ve had good results with the gen2 BSX as a basic regular validation tool, and I think some effort by them to keep it useable would be a minimum act of good faith. I’m not holding my breath though.

  21. Ingo

    Good to remember how some, including Ray, tried to shoot down a few rather critical questions when the BSX Insight Gen2 In-Depth Review was released…

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Well done lads.

    • I think you’re mixing up two different things here: BSX as a tech, and BSX in how they operate a company (+ LVL, which is totally different)

      From a tech standpoint, it’s been proven by unconnected 3rd parties from a medical standpoint to be quite accurate. One can debate what to do with that data, but tech wise is solid. You’re welcome to go read those studies.

      Then there’s the aspect of how they run the company from a promises standpoint, that, is different.

    • Su-Chong Lim

      @Ingo: I think you are a bit unfair here. I went back and reviewed the exchange I think you are referring to. It’s true that this technology is questionable (at least I think so) and it’s true that this company has now apparently abandoned BSX. But at the time your general scepticism (a good thing, actually, all things considered) was further falsely augmented by non-differentiation between LED sensor measurement of Heart Rate by measuring time lapse between light reflection peak pulses, and the very different viable technology of measurement of Haemoglobin Oxygen Saturation by pulse oximetry devices which use specific wavelength absorption of capillary blood to determine the percentage of Haemoglobin saturation/desaturation. Ray at this point was swayed by the close correlation between his own blood measured Lactate Threshold Test and the inflection point of the BSX prediction data. Now what that squiggly line data was calculating from was never fully explained. And from my viewpoint, knowing what I know about the characteristics of capillary blood oximetry measurement from through and through fingertip and ear-lobe measurements, and even planar random skin reflectance readings, I would have had big questions regarding how much certainty of specific calf muscle oxygen saturation you are measuring versus the saturation of the overlying subcutaneous capillary blood that the same infrared sensor beam has to pass through. So actually what blood pool are you measuring? I actually personally think there is an element of BS back formation modelling that conveniently ends up at an inflection point at the same time-point of the blood tracked Lactate Threshold. But they won’t tell us what the underlying metrics are, so it’s hard to evaluate (good name, eh, BSX?).

      But I have to admit that the abrupt inflection of the BSX data at the same treadmill intensity point as Ray’s Blood Lactate inflection point looks pretty impressive.

      We now know that the BSX is gone, but the underlying reasons are not entirely clear. I have my own specific reasons for scepticism regarding the technology, but Ray, while having very impressive general and tech knowledge, as well as real world general scepticism could not reasonably have my specific technical knowledge (bio-instrumentation as well as physiology). I have complemented you on your own healthy scepticism, and I still stand by that, but your misunderstanding of the different light absorption/reflection sensing technologies at the time gave you a false datapoint upon which to dismiss the technology, so it amounts to a cheap shot to say “I told you so” now.

      I don’t even think Ray was wrong here. He certainly admitted he didn’t follow the modelling logic (because there wan’t any) — just that he was impressed by the way the BSX matched the blood Lactate threshold, which indeed was impressive. He couldn’t have predicted the way things eventually fell apart, although he was prompt in detecting and reporting the ominous business tell-signs as they unfolded.

      No, I think generally Ray is the smartest and generally the most knowledgable and reliable commentator here, even if it is because he has all of us to pester him, criticize him and generally keep him on his toes lol. That’s why we consistently return to read this and don’t have a real life.

    • Su-Chong Lim

      (Sorry, I got the names confused — all my references to BSX above should read BSX Insight)

    • Ingo

      Thanks for the insight and sharing this might have even protected a few unsuspecting fellows back then from getting hooked on the idea.

      Appreciate also you coming to Ray’s defense which is probably more relevant to the people who ultimately bought this concept and the product but as far as I am concerned I’d always prefer to be right for the wrong reasons than wrong (for either the wrong or the right reasons).

      But here’s some food for thought: do you think a financial adviser could easily reduce his liability for a breach of a duty of care by saying that the tech the company (he recommended) was developing was sound but the company went bankrupt because they were simply bad at running a business? That would only work if he had put that into a very long disclaimer before so people are warned.

    • You were wrong, and wrong for the wrong reasons. So double wrong. Nothing you referenced talked about the company deciding to stop producing the product 18 months later into the future. Everything you talked about was misunderstanding what sensors were in there, with a boatload of people attempted to explain/correct to you.

      As for financial advisers, umm…every financial adviser ever specifies they can’t predict the future. Ironically, I even put in my BSX Gen2 review that you commented on concerns about how the company handled Gen1 Kickstarter customers. Once again showing that people don’t actually read the reviews before making comments.

      After all, the actual problem BSX had for the first half of 2017 was inability to keep stock of Insight, they couldn’t make enough fast enough to keep up with orders. Hardly an indication of them shutting things down (which is ultimately, is only being done because they’re trying to focus 100% of company efforts on LVL, as they view that to be a bigger long term cash cow they can then sell-off).

    • Chris K

      @Inigo I think your comments here and above show how much you thoroughly misunderstand how investment works. I work in financial services, and in particular have been involved with the post-2008 legislative response to ensure consumers are protected from bad products. Financial advisers do have a duty of care, at a point in time, to ensure appropriate structures are in place to run the company and to ensure the information being presented is accurate. Depending on the type of product (new IPO, AIFMD, private offer etc) the due diligence may be more or less onerous, and hence capital raising via the selected method may come with greater or lesser one time and ongoing costs. As Ray says the same financial adviser may not be liable if subsequent issues arise.

      The point of Kickstarter is to provide a method for crowd sourced capital raising with minimal overheads, but this shouldn’t be at the cost of appropriate consumer protections. If the BSX LVL situation isn’t appropriately resolved I think this will have to be addressed. And to emphasise in case it is not obvious to you, consumer protections don’t need to be about ensuring Kickstarter is risk-free. It is quite normal for investments to fail and people to lose money. But consumers do need clear and accurate information to be presented to them so that their decisions regarding investments are well informed. In this case that does not seem to have happened.

  22. John Kissane

    Interesting information, thanks a lot. I was very tempted to pre-order but decided to wait until someone actually used a production version. Amazing that it’s still up for pre-order on their website for $150!!

  23. Allan Watkins

    I did a pre-order through their website, nothing stated I couldn’t be refunded or that sales were final on pre-orders. I was able to get a refund. I think if you did that instead of the kickstarter you should try to get your refund. It was quick and painless.

  24. Eli

    For those interested in muscle oxygen there is still this that should be coming out “soon”
    link to humon.io

    I’m not completly sure about it though. How come they seem to think they don’t need as much of a light shield as Moxy and BSX? They went from claiming to support the Ant+ muscle oxygen standard to now needing a connectIQ app or proprietary android/iphone software

    Any thoughts on this product Ray?

    • leendert


      thanks for sharing; looks nice. if they got a final product that meets expectations (validated via studies like the ones conducted on the BSXinsight); I wil certainly buy one if the BSXinsight isn’t supported/useful anymore.


    • Yeah, I agree with your concerns about light blockage. We know both BSX and Moxy had to put significant light blocking ‘technologies’ (either simplistic or otherwise) around their devices to make them work accurately.

    • Eli

      Have you been in any contact with them? With how much they promoted their beta pilot and all the press talking about them seems like they would want to to check their product out.

      If it does what they claim (muscle oxygen like Moxy plus more to interpret that data) and is way cheaper then Moxy then why don’t they seem to compare to Moxy but they do have a quote comparing to Oxiplex? It doesn’t add up and makes it seem like the data it gives isn’t accurate. (Easy for anyone to compare to Moxy and show it giving bad data, hardly anyone has an Oxiplex to try and use)

  25. Duane

    I was an early backer and this is the first time I’ve done anything with Kickstarter, but I feel pretty burned. The comments section of the kickstarter page is littered with people asking for refunds (and being declined) and others entering into dispute with the credit card companies. I appreciate the investigation on this and a part of me wants to believe they can pull this off, but I’m conflicted. On one hand Samsung seems to think they have a shot at something, but there is hardly any good news emerging after a year has passed. It’s probably a write off at this point.

  26. merijn

    I missed this company altogether.
    Together with non-invasive sugar measurement, hydration is a kind of holy grail. Especially for elderly people hydration would be a big market, bigger than sports probably.
    Several years ago I spend quite some time in a research company working on a similar hydration measurement concept. We worked on optical methods (and some other) using a range of wavelengths, with purposely designed laboratory equipment. Only the sensors were wearable, dataprocessing was not yet. In the end we dropped the subject.
    The situation with the location of the different body fluids (in the blood, in the cells, interstitial fluid) made hydration an extremely hard nut to crack. Measuring something is easy. Tying it to hydration only without influence of other parameters (blood flow, blood pressure, temperature, movement, oxygen content etc.) proved to be impossible.
    I would have been extremely sceptical about any company that said to have solved this puzzle by optical means. There is only so much you can do with optical measurements.

    • Su-Chong Lim

      Hey, Merijn: there is reliable implantable continuous glucose monitoring now, even to the point of automated insulin pump actuation. But you almost certainly know this already, working in this field.

      But, as you say, hydration/dehydration measurement is a totally different nut to crack. Even if you could get a reliable implantable sensor somewhere, exactly what would you measure?

      Accurate before and now weight measurements would be difficult to beat, if you only had them available; not totally specific, though, but better than anything else I can think of.

    • zen

      None of the devices are reliable over acceptably long timescales. Closed loop monitor-pump devices are still a ways off.

  27. Great recap – as a 5x Kickstarter creator that delivered on-time, every time I especially appreciate the comment about not throwing out the baby with the bath water. It does suck when they blow up like this, makes the whole world of crowdfunding seem dubious when really just this company is dubious IMO. Some of us keep things simple/realistic and are honest and then deliver on time. Of note in this discussion is this article I stumbled upon today while looking into this world. I hope someone figures this area out. Big implications and I am working on something that would help further downstream from these sensors.
    link to sciencedaily.com

  28. Strike 3- You are Out

    I backed this in part because of Ray’s backing/thoughts and the Team’s history of successfully producing a product.

    I knew there was a chance they would fail. But did not expect them to fail in the ways represented in Ray’s post.

    I viewed like a Venture Capitalist- most investments fail to produce the expected returns but every now and then you hit a home run. Oh well this looks like a strikeout.

  29. Felix

    I only just bought the Insight! Back in June/July. I waited over a month for it from Clever Training due to supply problems – in the end I was happy as they upgraded me for free to the multisport edition (from running only), perhaps this explains why!

    I will be very disappointed if the product ends up ‘bricked’ because BSX won’t maintain a server. As someone else has said I didn’t order this based on a kickstarter, but as a fully functioning product. I didn’t think I was investing in a project… I doubt CT will be doing refunds!

    • chris gachowski

      It’s a gamble, and one that I am glad that I am taking, sometimes you have to push the boundaries. I’m glad that I was to help them try.

      It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that they were, pushing science and tech. That they had delivered one cutting edge product so there was a 50/50 chance at best that LVL might work.

      That said they still might get it to work, fall back to the original plan use the original tech and push Samsung for some more money (6 mill is a rounding error for them) and get Maxim to help out with custom chips.

      Would Samsung and Maxim spend the money if they thought it wouldn’t work? They both had to do their due diligence.


      PS that said I wouldn’t recommend anyone else pre-buy one now or before. I’ll told the “guys” I bike about the kickstarter, but said let me be the guinea pig.

  30. Andrew M

    I note the difference in your coverage of these guys, and that of Brim Brothers. Appropriate in boths cases, I think.

  31. Casey Cook

    I placed an order on the LVL website on 7/17/2017 as it stated a ship date in Aug 2017. My order acknowledgement showed a ship date for Aug 2017. Less than 3 weeks later, I hear (not through LVL) that they delayed shipments by a year. Clearly they knew full well that in July they would not be shipping the next month but yet advertised as such. Shameful.

    LVL Hydration Monitor
    (Band Length: Small, Band Color/Material: Black Silicone)
    (Shipping August 2017)

  32. Benedikt

    Hi Ray,

    do you know something about SHFT? Last time i heard or have seen something was in April, social media seems to switch to black then. Im gonna charge my pods to see if it is still working.

    • My understanding is that SHFT filed for bankruptcy around then. I don’t know if that’s protection or not, or how it works in the UK. Either way – I haven’t heard from them since then, which is too bad.

    • Dan

      *confused* There are recent posts on SHFT’s social media. Their website is up and products are for sale.

      Nothing suggests that they’ve gone out of business.

      Looks a fine product too.

    • Yeah, I don’t really understand how bankruptcy works in the UK, which is why they may well be operating still (though, their last social media post I can find is two months ago, at the same time, they were never very active on social media).

      In the US, there’s basically Ch11 bankruptcy protection, which means that a company keeps operating. For most consumers this won’t impact them. Whereas Ch13 is when a company is liquidated.

  33. Damon Gisel

    BSX has commented on their kickstarter page about this article. They said that this article is fake!

  34. Magic M

    Hey Ray,

    Speaking of (potentially) new devices, here’s one still in super early development that might one day help us all to optimize workouts for more efficient fat burning:
    link to ethz.ch
    Their device has been tested and the research in that field published (reference: Anal.Chem.2017, 89, 10578)
    Oh and I’d be still very interested in hearing your opinion about the Halo device for training :)

    • Su-Chong Lim

      @Magic M: I can’t speak to this device, but there is already a real-time breath acetone measuring device on the market.

      I have used it for over a year, and it appears to do the job adequately. I have been on a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet for more than 2 years (highly disapproved of by the mainstream medical establishment), and the values obtained with the Ketonix correlate well with my blood sugar and ketone body measurements and state of nutrition and exercise exhaustion etc.

      link to ketonix.com

      It is not a slam dunk. I would suggest you read up on and understand the biochemistry and still do the blood monitoring at least initially to make sure you understand your own unique body response to fasting and carbohydrate restriction, and to understand the limitations of breath acetone measurement. But blood ketone body measurement also has its limitations; it’s also somewhat expensive, although I understand in Canada the blood ketone strips, for the Abbot freestyle machine at least, are somewhat cheaper.

    • Su-Chong Lim

      Cheaper than in the US, I mean

  35. As heartbreaking the news for me is, as a Kickstarter backer of LVL, I really appreciate the article and the discussion here too.

    Hydration is something I really would love to measure, as I a simply forgetting to drink, especially when I am at work, writing or doing anything else that brings me into “flow state”. Given that BSX delivered a usable device before, I was pretty hopeful to not experience another Kickstarter disaster.

  36. Gregg

    On the Kickstarter comment section for this product BSX Athletics said in regards to this blog… “Don’t believe it just because it’s on the internet.”

    • Bob

      Pretty sure they’d be welcome to jump on here and tell their side of the story, unless of course they know their position is indefensible….and Ray would punch them in the balls.

    • I saw the comment.

      They’re welcome to (attempt to) refute anything I wrote. However, as I replied to them via e-mail after the piece was published when they contacted me, numerous present and past employees as well as partner organizations have come forward since to confirm everything written in the article as “painfully” accurate.

      If they can prove anything tangible is inaccurate, I’m more than happy to correct that. But I cautioned that I’d be validating that against a swath of people with inside knowledge…just as I did before (actually, now it’s an even bigger swath).

    • Stuart

      I would love to see them jump on here and tell their side of the story. The silence on the Kickstarter page over the past three or four days since this article was posted has been deafening.

      If I were in charge of this company, the moment this article was posted and my attention brought to it, I’d have been moving heaven and earth to get the facts together, to make an urgent statement to backers. Three or four days should have been more than enough to get something substantial together, even if they couldn’t address all of the points in the article.

      The fact that they haven’t done so is deeply, deeply concerning for those backing this project.

    • Geoffrey

      I wouldn’t hold my breath….clocking ticking for them to respond….

    • Stuart

      They’ve had about a week. Close to, anyway.

      They haven’t even done basic damage control yet. The longer they take, the less likely that they’ll be taken seriously. I’m not saying it’s impossible for them to recover, even at this late stage… only that it’s looking increasingly unlikely.

  37. Bob

    Honesty has left the building….

  38. Alphamoose

    Very disappointing for sure, but I guess that’s always the risk with Kickstarters.

  39. Gordon

    I bought a BSX insight in March with high hopes for this device. The customer service is the worst I’ve ever come across. They send me an old model and then proceeded to argue that I A) didn’t have one or B) found someone’s old one and was trying to get a upgrade. After many many months and tons of emails they finally agreed to replace mine. I sent my BSX in Esrly August with a guarantee that I would get a replacement in 2 weeks. Well I still don’t have it, they refuse to return my many emails. What can I do now? I feel completely taken advantage of. I see in the article that the owner guaranteed refunds. How do I go about doing this if they refuse to even respond?

  40. Felix

    I bought my Insight in July of this year, used it once and then got injured. This week I was finally ready to do another test and it appears to be bricked! It is stuck in purple led/ firmware upgrade mode (even though I never put it into this mode in the first place). The desktop app just gives an error when trying to perform an upgrade or reset, and their magnet method of resetting doesn’t seem to work either.

    Doesn’t sound like I will get much help from BSX! I bought mine from Clever Training so I’ll go through them instead. BSX provide a 1 year warranty and they have to stick by that.

    Kickstarter or not they still owe their customers a reasonable level of service and support – and as I mentioned above I never bought the product intending to support a kickstarter, in fact I wasn’t even aware it had been one. A lot of people seem to be of the view that they were willing to take a risk with a kickstarter – but many people will have bought this product from Clever Training or BSX directly, unaware that it was a kickstarter and without the intention of ‘investing’ or supporting a new product, but with the intention of buying a functioning device for the specific purpose it was marketed for…

    • Just to clarify – we should really be separating BSX Insight from BSX LVL. While Insight did start as a Kickstarter product, these days it’s (or was) all retail, not via Kickstarter. BSX LVL is still a Kickstarter effort.

      In the case of BSX Insight, they did promise back in August to carry forward the 1-year purchase support, till August 2018. At present, that is still the case (though it does sound like support isn’t responding, which is indeed a different issue).

      I think you’d have a challenge going back to any retailers at this point, since it’s months beyond last sale. That said, there are many venues for dealing with individual companies (BSX) that don’t respond on support. For a small company, aspects like the Better Business Bureau might be a good stick (even if the overall value is questionable).

      But again, purchasing Insight at any point in the last year isn’t purchasing a Kickstarter. It’s just purchasing from a company that has since decided to discontinue the product/platform. :-/

    • zen

      Interestingly my gen2 insight (a bit older than yours, Felix) has the same symptoms. Worked fine about 5-6 weeks ago when I last used it and now stuck with blue (but it could be purple) light on. PC will charge it, and recognize it, but it can’t communicate with it. I emailed BSX and they responded with in 24 hours with suggestions, that I had already tried by that point (let it discharge, stronger magnet). But after the initial response, nothing… Usually, at this point, a company would offer a refurbished unit at a discount, or send it in for repairs as an option. But, I will have to assume those are off the table since they don’t have any more product lying around.

      I did notice an ebay seller in Hong Kong selling them with various sized sleeves. Leftover inventory?

      I thought about doing the Moxy trade-in deal but I so far cannot find a simple FTP test protocol. At least nothing as straightforward as BSX had. Moxy seems to be less end-user marketed and more for coaches and testing centers.

    • Felix

      I was going back and forth with someone called Wayne but he has gone quiet recently… he did mention RMA so I am still hoping for a response.

      As far as I’m concerned I’m well within the one year warranty and they have to stand by that in one way or another. There is federal law on warranties that applies to all states. They can repair, replace or refund my unit but if they don’t reply I’ll start with the BBB and the office of the attorney general of Texas consumer complaints division, and move on to the small claims court if that goes nowhere.

      hopefully none of that is necessary. .

    • Hans Battle

      “I’ll start with the BBB and the office of the attorney general of Texas consumer complaints division, and move on to the small claims court if that goes nowhere”

      Really? … for a couple hundred dollar gadget… surely you have to place some value on your own time, no? Good luck with that. Seems like it’d be a lost cause to me.

    • Stuart

      Sometimes, it’s about the principle of the thing more than it is about the money. There are times when a business’s attitude has got me riled up to the point where I’ll go out of my way to make sure they don’t profit from their incompetence – even if the value proposition, financially speaking, to me personally is marginal (or even negative).

      And it’s frequently the case that you’ll get satisfaction when you jump up and down, in a way that you won’t if you don’t. *shrugs* Maybe I just get ornery sometimes. Ultimately, it’s up to Felix to decide what his time is worth, and whether the payoff – financial, satisfaction, whatever – is sufficient for the effort.

    • Felix

      @zen – I was about to email BSX again to bug them today and thought I would give the firmware update one more try (probably for about the 30th time).

      Today when I connected the Insight it was still flashing purple, but the utility downloaded and applied the firmware update! I could barely believe my eyes.

      Anyway it is now synced and apparently up to date. you might want to try it again!

      Fingers crossed it at least works until summer next year, as mad as I will be if they completely kill the software platform at that point…

    • Kev

      I had the same issue with a purple light and had contacted BSX last week. Send them video showing the software wouldn’t sync, etc

      Just saw your post and tried teh same with my unit and now working. Wonder of something is going on with the background server?

  41. Hans Battle

    Why don’t the shareholders sell BSX Insight? It’s a unique product and works… has to have some value. It’s a shame to see it thrown under the bus for the sake of LVL. Then potentially they could recycle the Insight funds back into LVL if desired.

    It would seem at least plausible that another more established player could successfully add the Insight into their product line up.

    I use the Insight for LT tests… sure would be a bummer if it stopped working.

    • I suspect it’d be difficult to sell Insight now. Certainly, there were interested buyers a few years ago, but I suspect it’d be difficult for a 3rd party company to come in and have trust in what they were buying (either technically or logistically).

      It’d likely be cheaper to acquire a company like Moxy and bring the software platform to match, along with minor hardware tweaks.

      Realistically, there’s only a few companies that would have bought BSX and have it fit in their product lineup, namely, Garmin or perhaps Polar. But Polar prefers to develop in-house. So really, just Garmin. And that ship has sailed a while back. Also, Garmin does tend to do pretty good due-diligence on their acquisitions, based on discussing it with people on both sides of the issue. After all, they acquire a lot of companies each year across all their businesses. Having worked myself in a mergers & acquisitions team at a large bank, you get a bit of a rhythm down, and once you figure out your baseline, you don’t often skew from it if it doesn’t feel right.

  42. Gordon bolles

    DcRainmaker I Did purchase the BsX insight directly from the BsX website and that was last March or feb.. will I still be included in the ability to get a refund? Is there another way to contact this company? They are not responding to my emails. Interestingly my wife emailed them independently and they responded to her within 24 hours. How should I proceed?

    • I’m not aware of any BSX Insight refund plans. About the only folks who’d be able to get refunds would be those where a retailer covers you still (i.e. CT within last 60 days).

  43. Felix

    CleverTraining won’t/can’t do anything as my bricked Insight is beyond 60 days purchase, which is fair enough. Hopefully BSX will either replace or compensate/refund. Concerning that if they have ceased production, how many spare units will they actually have to do replacements?

    I figure I’ll give them a week to respond and if I don’t hear anything I’ll make a complaint to the BBB and anyone else i can find.

    Another option might be to file a complaint with the Consumer Protection branch of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas: link to texasattorneygeneral.gov

    Particularly frustrating since I only bought this in July and apparently they ceased production a month later! And if they shut down the platform it is frankly outrageous behavior

    • Hard to know on spare units. I know they were having issues last spring in making enough stock to keep up with demand, but I don’t know where that line was drawn on if/when they caught up exactly this summer.

    • Felix

      :( possible/probably waste of several hundred dollars! Worse since I paid in Canadian haha.

      Thanks for the replies! I will see if there is any response and if not pursue a refund through BBB and the office of the AG.

  44. Ryan V

    Dumping the Insight is as nonsensical an idea as I’ve ever heard of. Their 2nd gen Insight was reviewed as being “pretty accurate” and its remaining issues related mainly to their software ecosystem. The issues seemed to be things that a decent developer or two could have ironed out in a couple months.

    So….they dropped a relatively groundbreaking product with a potentially bright future (its horrible V1 launch notwithstanding) to focus their effort on something as seemingly useless as a hydration sensor?

    You know how I test for hydration? “Am I thirsty?” This thing is/was the very definition of a gimmick product, and wouldn’t stand a chance of being a long-term success. A couple hundred dollar investment for some relatively sdvanced tech to “maybe” give you “some” insight into if you “might” need to have a drink of water.

    Once the initial kickstarter money-wasters are gone, reasonable people just aren’t going to shell out that kind of money on a product with that level of inconvenience that only does ONE thing.

    • Hans

      I couldn’t agree more. I like using the BSX Insight for LT tests and have found the 2nd Gen device to be relatively reliable and user friendly. It’s a good, unique product that does something valuable. I’ve never been interested in and wouldn’t use it for real time monitoring.

      As many regular visitors to Ray’s site can probably appreciate, I’m already suffering from gadget overload that has become a detriment to my training if only because I spend more time trying to connect and pair and sync things and interpret data than I actually do training. So I’m running along… and now I’ve got cadence, pace, heart rate, power, ground contact time, vertical oscillation – and oh wait, an indispensable hydration sensor as well now (well almost).

      While I used to be excited about new products… I’ve gone back to heart rate. That’s it. On the bike I look at power as well, second to heart rate. I could not have LESS interest in a hydration sensor. Frequency of urination, thirst, heat and nearly 30 years of athletic experience has afforded me a reasonably reliable sense of the need to drink during activities.

      If the shareholders had had some commercial sense, they would have monetized the BSX Insight through a strategic deal back when they lost interest in it and before they digressed into an apparent mess… when it could have been ring fenced and carved out cleanly enough for an industry player with deep pockets (as Ray alluded to).

      If it turns out that they’ve just abandoned it, foregone better strategic options, and destroyed value for themselves… then it is indeed nonsensical as you say. This would be a good business school case study.

      Boggles my mind how many people are geeking out on the LVL gadget. I’m trying to imagine myself during a 70.3 at mile 40 on the bike seeing a message from my LVL to “Drink Water”, and it saving the day, because otherwise I’d have never known to grab a bottle at the aid station and drink it. Truly ingenious.

    • Stuart

      The value of a hydration meter for someone like me is if I’m racing in different conditions to what I’m familiar with.

      I live in Melbourne. That means I’m accustomed to cool to warm, low humidity conditions. Put me in a tropical race (eg: Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, etc), and it doesn’t matter how much I try to do at home – I’m not receiving the signals I’m accustomed to, which means I’m at risk of over- or under-hydration. Having a reliable indication of hydration levels would be invaluable in that sort of circumstance.

      And yes, if I want to do a full Ironman, travel is essential. The closest to my home conditions would probably be either Wanaka or Taupo, since Ironman Melbourne was cancelled, and those aren’t exactly flat. (Academic at this stage; half distance is enough for me for now.)

    • Sandro

      You know how I test for lactate? “Am I tired”? Really guys, get over the “drink when you are thirsty” nonsense. Had it existed with the purported features, which to say just one included high accuracy HR with ANT+ broadcasting, the LVL would have been a compelling device.

    • Su-Chong Lim

      Big “if” there. Not to say I wouldn’t want that knowledge if it were available. But the biology and physiological adaptation behind dehydration is so complex that I despair of finding a foolproof single-value indicator that reports dehydration with reliability. I’m stuck with my own experience, careful observation of many variables, and knowing there is a certain degree of unreliability nevertheless.

  45. Leendert

    recieved this mail today

    Hi Leendert,

    As we mentioned in a previous newsletter, we are announcing a program that offers BSX Insight users to trade in their device on the purchase of a new Moxy Monitor.

    We would like to support people that have invested their time and effort in Muscle Oxygen monitoring to continue to pursue the development of the technology. We welcome BSX users to our Moxy community and look forward to Muscle Oxygen Monitoring to continue to develop as a primary tool for guiding the training of athletes.

    You can find all of the details by clicking on the following button.

    The Moxy Team

  46. Leendert

    Is there a possibility that Moxy did some kind of buy out of BSX Insight behind the scenes?

    • No, not at all. They’re simply taking a chunk of their margins to try and woo customers over. There’s been no discussions between the two companies from my understanding.

    • Leendert

      thanks Ray, for the answer; it’s a pitty, cause I hoped for them to be able to adopt the threshold part (although controversial as stated by some here on the blog, it matched in the blood LT test paper) of the BSX insight, especially the lower Aerobic Threshold determination.

  47. Tara

    Ray – with the next LVL Kickstarter Backer update finally published this evening (the October update… on Nov 3) – and containing very little info, despite promises of many things… will you be doing an analysis and interpretation of the update and what it actually means? (if anything)

    I know the Backers are very thankful for your investigative reporting, and would love an updated take on what you see happening here.

    Thank you for all of your hard work on this one.

    • Hi Tara-

      Indeed, I did read it. And I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

      It’s just plots on a chart, but no actual data to back it up. Nor more importantly, devices. Why not include a photo of someone using it outdoors? I count ~61 dots on that chart. Does that mean 61 separate tests? Or just a single test with 61 data points? They don’t specify how sweat loss was measured (for the comparison). Was that with sweat collection devices, or simply weight loss? Collecting data points across those tests is the most important part of omitted information.

      Sweat collection devices would be extremely difficult to deal with outdoors while running, the same as cycling outdoors (typically they’re done indoors in chambers). But weight loss doesn’t make much sense because the charts are in mL. In either case – what sweat collection methodology and/or device was used should be noted, and ideally photographed.

      Ultimately, there isn’t really any actual information in this update that tells us the progress of their device. Remember, the two core issues are:

      A) Hydration status (not sweat loss, as you can be dehydrated without pouring sweat)
      B) Miniaturization of said technology (which we haven’t seen any headway on in a year).

      That’s what I’m looking for, at this point this update doesn’t address either.

    • Richard Elliot

      It will be interesting to see if the progress is enough for Samsung. You article suggested there was a milestone linked to funding at the end of October. I’m guessing the company won’t last that long without investor cash as all our Kickstarter funds have probably been burned through by now.

  48. As Kickstarter backer of LVL, I’m grateful for the reporting. I’m quite certain now I will never see any kind of product from them.
    It is amazing that the company continues to post updates as if everything is going well.

  49. Sign this petition if you backed BSX lvl and want a refund

    link to ipetitions.com

  50. Ken Krozel

    Ray, great article, and some very disappointing news about BSX Technologies, but I have to say that something about how they are handling LVL rings true to anyone that had the v1 version of the insight and the questionable things happing around its performance before the release of the v2.

    For the longest time I couldn’t understand why the .csv data associated with the device had to go through the cloud and back out again with the device synced, and rarely did I have an outdoor activity go to completion without giving a connectivity error of sort. All of this interlocking always made me feel like the company was a little too paranoid about hiding their IP, or coming up with a way to generate revenue via service, all at the expence of simplicity in functionality.

    I believe in the BSX insight, but not only as a LT threshold monitor. I believe it brings 2 very valuable things to the table for the amateur endurance athlete.

    1) the BSX I feel does a very good job of showing muscle fatigue when compared to similar perforamce workouts (it shows how time to warmup the body lengthenes with fatigue, and also more acute response in SMO2 with stepped changes in Power output of the athlete) I think this is something that with a little work could help individualize things like Trainingpeaks CTL and ATL

    2) It does a great job of helping you to limit yourself in any training performances and maximize the value of a Z1 type recovery workout, by giving me direct feedback on how hard my muscles are working.

    The announcement of the LVL was exciting in that it seemend to be bringing in a tool that would further help athletes individualize their training and truly bring value to coaches and athletes alike. I personally didn’t pre-order via Kickstarter because of lack of trust in bringing a solid v1 product based on my experience with Insight. I am sure many others are in that boat as well.

    I personally dont believe there is fault in measuing something like blood to get hydration, as long as it is consistent and repeatable in its application. Its too easy to get bunny-holed into wanting this, when in fact most of practical engineering uses empirical relationships.

    BSX’s failure in my opinion is at the managerial level, with overly complex implementaiton software for no apparent reason. I cringe in thinking of how much money was wasted on unneeded software complexity in the user interface.

    Your advice to the CEO is spot on. Any chance of salvaging brand loyalty in this market would come from letting other developers get at the value data their product provides. I would hate for my Insight to get a spot in my device museum next to my MOTOACTV.


  51. Leendert

    For 1 month now, I m a very happy user of the MOXY Monitor. The racing season had already ended, so I have no competition results (other than a 10k PR that was spot on with a Moxy Monitor guided treadmill test) that could back up my new training regime. Though the MOXY data match the so called “feeling of the day”, the theory at their website and the treadmill test outcome.
    My training is now totally Moxy Monitor guided; I only briefly check power or pace and hart rate to put the Moxy data in perspective. I hope it guides me to new PRs in the runs and in the duathlons.
    I didn’t trade in my BSXinsight (yet, maybe on a second Moxy Monitor for my brother), but you can really consider that offer.

  52. *edited/corrections*
    Two weeks ago I started a petition because BSX LVL creators have not been upfront with us backers and they haven’t been answering our questions and concerns. Today this petition has 59 signatures, also today Kickstarter has suspended my commenting capabilities on BSX LVL… They have also removed all links to my petition and have only told me that I’ve posted “abusive content”. It’s obvious that my petition has gotten under someone’s skin at BSX LVL.
    Please help keep this petition alive

    link to ipetitions.com

    • Stuart

      It couldn’t possibly be because you posted the petition comment no fewer than 20 times that I can see on the front page of comments alone. Ten of the last twelve comments (as I write this) were from you.

      Spam is a thing, and I’d say that you were spamming, no matter what your intentions may have been. You might want to consider how that looks to somebody from the outside looking in.

    • Stuart, I understand how that would look if those last comments were made in the same day…. But they were not. I post a new comment every day. So to recap, I post one (1) comment every 24 hours. Is that considered spamming?

      I believe I’m gotten under the skin of LVL BSX because I’ve actually obtained 59 honest signatures and this number keeps growing. The fact of the matter is that we as backers are being ignored and haven’t had our questions answered.

      BSX LVL we need answers! Please sign this petition and we may get enough attention to have our questions answered.

      link to ipetitions.com

    • Stuart

      When it’s pretty much the same comment, and there’s been nothing posted between them by anybody else? Yup. Still spamming. If I look at the post once a week, for example, and I see a stream of comments that are essentially identical, from the exact same poster, it doesn’t matter whether they were posted within seconds of each other, or within days. It’s still spamming.

    • I’d agree, posting the same comment every 24 hours is spamming. Just like posting it multiple times at once here is spamming (and why I deleted the duplicates). I’ve left the single link from today, but otherwise I’d agree that repetitive stuff is less than ideal.

    • Stuart

      I’ll also note that there was somebody else who posted a _single_ comment with a link to the petition on Kickstarter. That comment is still up, and is still on the front page of comments.

      I think it’s pretty clear from that that it wasn’t the petition in itself that was the problem. (And on that note, I’m done commenting on this particular thread. I get the anger and frustration, I really do, but… yeah. And Ray – not that you need my permission, but if you’d rather this thread not continue, feel free to delete this comment.)

    • LVL backers… What are your thoughts on the new update?

      link to ipetitions.com

  53. Jesper

    Is this just fake, or is there a faint hope still????

  54. @stuart

    looks like Wayne answered your questions… why don’t you pay it in the main comments section for everyone to see (since it’s only in the update comments that many won’t see).

    and Stuart, what are your thoughts at this point with those answers?

    • Stuart

      Yeah, I saw the response.

      Honestly? The most honest reaction I can come up with is, “Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?” It’s not really proof of anything either way – as I indicated (and Wayne didn’t respond to this), it really is a credibility issue right now. Ray said one thing. Wayne said (in essence), “Ray’s wrong.” Who do we trust?

      If they’d come out with something like that six or seven weeks ago, I might have been inclined to a degree of trust. But eight weeks after the article was posted, _especially_ when several people were clamoring for a response from BSX during that time? Sorry: that horse bolted a while ago; I need some degree of independent verification.

      Don’t get me wrong. I do sincerely hope that it’s genuinely progressing, and that it will become a product that does what they said it will do; there’s a solid market for a reliable hydration meter of that sort. I just don’t have a lot of faith in that being the case. Either way, though, I’m done with Kickstarter, no matter how shiny the thingy.

    • Yeah, everything was side stepping in that response. The HR thing is the most obvious. Why hasn’t a single plot been shared?

      When I straight up asked Dustin about HR accuracy, he couldn’t even say it was ‘good or ok’, just that they wouldn’t share. Which is odd, because at the start of the project the plots were shared and looked perfect.

      Other aspects like showing videos of testing but not actually testing is side stepping again.

      For any company that had a functional product, these are all silly trivial things:

      A) Show a plot, any plot
      B) Show the unit powered on
      C) Show it in an actual test

      But none are shown.

  55. Not only does this feels like smoke and mirrors but it also feels like a deliberate effort to try and grasp the attention of “some” backers. the fact that Wayne doesn’t post his answers in the main comment section makes it seem as though he is only targeting a specific viewer/viewers.
    please read this paragraph again..

    A3. We do not and have not ever provided our internal testing or results. This is confidential and internal information that is not meant for public consumption. To give an idea of what test and trials may look like our staff provided a view of what a test would look like on the August video, of update #21 you referred to. It’s no secret that everyone in those views are our team members. Most of them have a photo on the campaign page of Kickstarter. At no point was it said that these are actual tests.

    does this mean that everything up to now is and has been fake and falsified information? if so this means that the picture on December 1st update is also a fake just like the initial campaign images.

    is this whole project just a fragment of our imagination?

  56. Hi Ray,

    I’ve gotten a credit card refund for this debacle. My first request for the refund was rejected, but I provided further documentation to my card company from your article / how BSX broke Kickstarter’s rules and I was then removed from the backer list on Kickstarter (without any notification from KS).

    Their campaign was very convincing and having already put the BSX Insight to market, I trusted that they were a legit company. Sadly, I think this will be my last time backing a Kickstarter project.

    Thank you again for your investigative work here – your insights were extremely helpful.

  57. Rob McMaster

    Wow what a bunch of thieves. I wouldn’t ever buy one of their products again.

  58. MAGNUS

    Just got an email from BSX.

    As part of the end of life process, we have decided to release the code of our BSXinsight Garmin Connect IQ app to the open source community. This can be found at link to github.com. Additionally, we will be publishing an updated app to the Connect IQ store with SmO2 start/stop functionality and FIT file support enabled from supported Garmin products.

    • mrjl

      Yep, got the email today as well. If they follow through with an updated IQ App that will start/stop the device I will find that helpful. The only thing I use my BSX for these days is making sure I am properly warmed up before time trials.The “lactate” testing corresponded to every other method I used and I now use Xert so I won’t miss the BXS test.

    • Abdiel

      IQ App got updated yesterday, but didn’t had the time for testing…

    • MAGNUS

      I did a test on Thursday too… Going to try to at least test the app for a regular run some time next week.

    • MAGNUS

      Wait, hasn’t it always recorded both SMO2 and tBH? Or do they mean we no longer have to use the Moxy app to get these on the fit file?

      And looking at the ConnectIQ app page, looks like this is only to Start/Stop the device… So no more testing as of today?

    • MAGNUS

      Has anyone had any luck updating their unit? I’m docking it and trying update via the mac app however it keeps ‘error’ing at 40%. Submitted a support ticket but not looking like I’m going to get a response.

  59. Rudolph Enroth

    Less than a week ago, an entity called “LVL Technologies” claiming to be in Austin posted this “sponsored” (meaning they paid to appear on every screen) job on Indeed.com.

    link to indeed.com

    I’m a near-perfect fit for the position (with multiple MIT EE degrees, Matlab-to-C conversion for a medical device, and “obsession” (their word, but it fits) with “minimizing CPU time and power” (to maximize battery life). On my last IoT project, I reduced power consumption by 99.3%, increasing battery life from 2-3 weeks to 5-10 years. I’ve done a lot of this low-power stuff and am really good at it.

    I applied immediately. I would have thought they’d jump all over this, but I’m heard nothing but silence and received no response to voicemail. From what I’m reading here today, I’m thinking I should move this one to my “Presumed Dead” pile, and move on to chasing other opportunities.

    RudolphEnroth@Yahoo.com (email welcome!)


  60. Haby Ramirez

    Has anybody gotten a refund lately?

    • Stuart

      Not from BSX, but I did get a chargeback successfully from my bank. I’m no longer able to comment on the LVL Kickstarter, nor see the backers-only updates. (Makes me a little sad… but only a little; watching the train wreck in slow motion isn’t worth the cost to me.)

  61. Ray Hren

    Ray, I was one of the 1000 preorders last year. I did so because the information posted at the time was the product would be delivered in August of 2017. In September I inquired about my order and was told it would be August of 2018 before delivery’s would begin. I decided ok I’ll wait. Of course now I realize it was a hoax and would like to get a refund. You state the preorders are eligible for a refund but no where on BSX’s site is a “contact us” button. I do not enter any kind of athletic competitions, I am an 83 year old man that was advised by my kidney doctor to keep hydrated. How can I ask for a refund?

  62. Now that we’re nearing the end of the year of support, has there been any word about a way to run LT tests after they go dark? It’s great that they open sourced the CIQ app, but those data aren’t very useful (too much variation between activities to be actionable). Maybe BSX can release the algorithm as well, and following whatever prescribed protocol, a fit file from that specific activity can be uploaded to somebody’s magic site that will spit out the results. Assuming the same data are recorded in the fit file as in the app during the actual test, this seems feasible.

    • Felix Evans

      I didn’t realize the LT test was still working. I recall December last year I tried to do one and after the usual brutal treadmill run it never sent my data – never gave me any analysis. Gave up after that, although I still have the damn thing.

  63. Mark Thomas

    I am another one of the 7,500 people scammed by this company via Kickstarter and am still awaiting the product or refund, this has been on-going since July 2017 and they do not even bother communicating anymore. They knew they had no ability to deliver this product and still took our money and have not even offered a refund and Kickstarter are sitting back and doing nothing. Two shit companies that deserve to be investigated.

  64. BSX Insider

    BSX/LVL was sold to Gideon Health (apparently founded by a Tinder founder)

    • Huh. Don’t doubt you. Wish I could find some confirmation somewhere online.

    • Tyler

      Got the Kickstarter update announcing this acquisition and offer for either refund or “(2) free priority delivery of the device we are now building. I wish I could say more, but given the highly proprietary nature, I cannot.”

      I went with the mystery box! I long ago kissed this money goodbye so might as well stay onboard and see what this clown car crashes into next.

    • Stuart

      Is there a copy of the update somewhere off Kickstarter? I got a refund (chargeback) some time ago, and can’t read “backers only” updates any more.

      Curiosity mostly on my part; I long ago decided to wait until something useful was made generally available, given how they’ve burned their backers.

  65. Josh

    Got an email that they are refunding backers of the LVL!

  66. Sean

    Got the same email. Refund is an unexpected surprise at this point, but I’ll take it. To go with the alternative of some unknown product would be to say that this kind of unprofessional conduct is acceptable. It doesn’t matter how great your product is, you can’t run a business this way. That they shutdown the BSX platform and killed my device doesn’t give me any confidence of the longevity of anything they would make.

  67. Cuddles

    link to linkedin.com

    Why does CEO Dustin not mention BSX in his LinkedIn profile?

  68. X

    Does anyone else receive a refund from BSX until now? Hardly any response was found on this topic.

  69. Will

    LVL is dead. Long live Hdrop!

    link to kickstarter.com

    • PaulyG

      what’s the old expression, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

      caveat emptor.

    • Stuart

      Exactly my thought, PaulyG. I’ll be watching this one with interest, but I won’t be backing it. LVL has burned me, to the point where I will never again back a Kickstarter.

      If the hDrop works as advertised, I’ll most likely buy it. But _after_ it has hit retail and been reviewed by independent reviewers (like Ray). Not before.

    • Will

      I was one of the lucky ones who received a refund from lvl. But yes, I won’t be backing hdrop.

      A few warning signs for me: The timeing plan reads like a high school project with a long list of serial events. Rather than a list of inter-related parallel events with start and finish dates.

      Secondly the budget is very small and I couldn’t see how they proposed to spend it.

      On a tech point I don’t see any ant+ support. Is bluetooth only sufficient?