BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It doesn't take long for the south Louisiana heat to wear down football players and other athletes. Hydration is critical to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke. That's why one man decided to make it easier to get those fluids. His idea could revolutionize the way athletes hydrate.
The hopes and dreams of local inventor Joseph Tucker can now be seen through the window of a 3D printer. His product called Hydra-Guard just entered the manufacturing phase. It's touted as the world's first refillable, hydrating mouth guard.
"We're pushing it from the sidelines onto the field and giving those athletes the ability to hydrate while they're in the game," Tucker said.
Hydra-Guard was born out of necessity while the Lake Charles-native trained for his second marathon in October 2012. Tucker wanted a hands-free product without a heavy pouch of liquid that weighed him down and slowed his pace.
A simple sketch and a prototype made with a Ziplock bag turned into his current refillable mouth guard. A small, built-in pouch holds 0.6 ounces of liquid, and the wearer simply presses the tongue against the roof of the mouth for an instant sip. It takes only seconds to reload between plays.
"You can put Gatorade, you can put Powerade," Tucker explained. "It's a very comfortable fit. You really don't notice it's there. You're able to talk."
Odell Beckham Jr. is talking about it. The former Tiger and Giants wide receiver recently offered an endorsement on his Facebook page.
Tucker said players are realizing that the extra shots of hydration promote peak performance.
"It's almost an answer to their prayers. Also parents as well. The parents responses are – a lot of them – are even better, because they want to keep their child healthy," he added.
The LSU football squad will be wearing Hydra-Guards at spring practice this year, and contracts are in the works with at least eight other universities.
It was a partnership with LSU that got the product out of development and into its first mouth. The school's Innovation Park business incubator provided vital resources and support, from helping form the business plan to operations and marketing.
Tucker hopes other industries find uses for Hydra-Guard. He sees benefits for plant employees, miners or anyone else confined to tight spaces while working.
The Hydra-Guard team is now working toward an official launch this spring. The product is set to retail for $34.99.