Our body is continuously storing and consuming energy to keep us alive — but understanding which fuels are being used and why is the Holy Grail of things like weight loss and body hacking. Today’s weight-loss market is saturated with generic products because — guess what — trying to tailor-make a solution for an individual is usually hard and expensive.
For a while now there’s been a technology around which can measure the metabolic gases found in your breath. The theory goes that if you can do that, everyone can work out what they should be eating and when. A few startups have tried, but nothing really took off. Now a new startup is having a crack and has secured significant funding to go for it.
Lumen is a pocket-sized device that measures the gases in your breath and translates that reading via an app into advice that gives you daily personalized meal plans.
As I said, this technology was tried by a startup called PATH Breath+Band, which had a similar device in 2016, but which didn’t take off.
The difference with Lumen is that it’s raised a decent war chest, as well as blowing up on Indiegogo.
It’s now raised a total of $7 million over the past four and a half years, from a host of investors. These include Disruptive VC, Oren Zeev, Red Swan Ventures, Resolute Ventures, Gigi Levy, Sir Ronald Cohen, Avishai Abrahami (Wix Founder) and RiverPark Funds. As part of that funding it’s also – in the last few days – raised more than $1 million on Indiegogo.
The founders are Merav Mor, a doctor of physiology (PhD) and cell biology and her twin sister, Michal Mor, also a doctor of physiology (PhD) and cell biology. CEO Daniel Tal is also a co-founder and also founded Wibiya, which was acquired by Conduit. It probably doesn’t hurt that the renowned Frog design helped in the, well, design.
As endurance athletes, the Mors began researching if there was a way for them to understand the impact of their nutrition and workouts on their bodies to improve their athletic performance. They came across a metabolic measurement called RQ (Respiratory Quotient), which is the gold standard for measuring the metabolic fuel usage of an individual. Top-performing athletes have been using this measurement for years, but the methods for measuring it are invasive (blood test), lengthy (1+ hour in metabolic chambers) and expensive (upwards of a few hundred dollars).
After four years of research and development they developed Lumen, with the ability to measure an individual’s RQ in one breath. What once took over an hour to measure, and a team of nutritionists and scientists to analyze, can now be done in less than three minutes. Michal and Merav’s technology is patent-pending.
So far Lumen says more than 300 beta users have lost an average of 6.8 lbs within the first 30 days of using the device.
Now, they do have competitors. These include Habit, which does pre-packaged personalized meals; Breezing, a technology that requires three minutes of continual breathing and the purchase of new cartridges with every measurement ($5); and Levl, which is a small home-lab setup that measures metabolism and ketosis and costs between $100-150/month. Then there is Ketonix, a computer-connected device that will only provide data on fat burn for users on a strict ketogenic diet.
But with Lumen you just buy the device and the app is free. No cartridges, filters or replacements.
All in all it’s quite a compelling proposition, so it will be interesting to see if Lumen can succeed where others have failed.