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Caktus takes plunge into consumer tech marketplace

Company hopes its hydration device, app help active people to be better hydrated

From left, the Caktus team of Olli Tiihonen, Heikki Saeteri, Tapani Honkavaara and Panu Keski-Pukkila. The company’s technology is designed to track how much water people drink —the CDC says almost half of Americans don’t drink enough.-(AARON HOUSTON)

Cactus plants survive the intense heat of their habitat by methodically preserving water. Caktus Inc. has a different take — it wants to ensure people are drinking enough water, no matter their habitat, and believes its technology can make it happen.

The early-stage company is developing a package that combines a hardware device and companion mobile app to make it easier for people to keep track of how much water they drink.

It’s more reliable than waiting until one is thirsty to drink, said CEO Panu Keski-Pukkila. On top of that, dehydration can lead to a variety of health problems, from fatigue to weight gain and kidney disease.

“Maintaining proper hydration is not as simple as taking a few gulps of water when you are thirsty,” Keski-Pukkila said. “It should be a constant process. That’s where we come in.”

Here’s how it works: Caktus produces a malleable ring — called a hug — that wraps around a water bottle and has electronic sensors that measure water inside the bottle.

The hug communicates that information to the app, through which a customer enters basic data, such as gender, weight and age. The app then informs the user how effectively they are staying hydrated.

“We want to make it as easy as possible,” Keski-Pukkila said. “The user slaps it around the water bottle and they are ready to go.”

To calculate ideal hydration, the app incorporates outside temperature, and can be modified to include exercise data.

Caktus is seeking $500,000 in capital over the next 16 months to commercialize its hug. Its target market is active people between 20 and 40, people who rush from the office to the gym.

Keski-Pukkila, who exercises daily, said staying regularly hydrated is a tricky habit to master: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 43 percent of Americans drink fewer than four cups of water a day.

Caktus is betting people know this instinctively, and are willing to pay for a convenient way to develop habits of hydration. The hug package is expected to sell for $60.

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