Startup Builds Sensors That Will Analyze Sweat to Track Your Health

Startup Builds Sensors That Will Analyze Sweat to Track Your Health
BY DAVEY ALBA   11.07.14  6:30 AM 
When you exercise, you sweat. It can be gross, but it helps your body cool down. And it’s packed with useful data.

That’s the pitch from Joshua Windmiller and Jared Tangney, the co-founders of a startup called Electrozyme. The company makes biosensor strip that can sit on the surface of your skin and read chemical information from your sweat, aiming to show how your body is reacting to strenuous exercise.

The tool can analyze the chemical composition of your perspiration on the fly, then provide insights about your hydration, fluid loss, and electrolyte balance. Windmiller described the technology on Thursday at this year’s Internet of Things Summit in San Francisco, and he says the company is already in talks to incorporate it into existing fitness trackers and other wearables.

The aim is to go beyond the usual set of physical metrics offered by other wearables. “Other wearables measure the same things: pace, heart rate, number of steps taken,” Windmiller says. “And that can be limiting.”

It works like this: The biosensor strips will slip right into third-party fitness trackers, most likely on the backside, so it touches the wearer’s skin. Embedded electrochemical sensors will then detect biomarkers contained in sweat—like electrolytes, sodium, lactate, proteins, etc.—that give indications about the physical state of the body. The company will provide algorithmic software that can analyze the data and provide personalized recommendations for your ongoing workout regime.

The company will use printer sensor technology to build the strips, so that they’re cheap and disposable. In other words, you can toss the icky, soaked thing in the trash after your sweat session.

Initially, the company hopes to tell you when you need take in more fluids, how much you need to drink, and whether you should go for water or a sports drink. It may also tell you when you’re approaching risk of a heat stroke or otherwise overexerting yourself in the heat, and Windmiller and Tangley are working on insights surrounding the prevention of cramping. In the future, the plan to work on other stuff, too. This might include that ability to measure muscular fatigue, physical exertion level, respiration and dermal pH levels, in addition to electrolyte balance and dehydration.

Windmiller and Tangney formed Electrozyme in 2012, but Windmiller’s work on electrochemical sensors goes four years back, when he was an electrical engineering post-doc at the University of California, San Diego. So far, the platform has been tested on a hundred people in a field trial with an undisclosed Fortune 100 strategic partner, and according to the co-founders, the number of testers—and interest in the platform—is growing.

Currently, the plan is to license Electrozyme’s platform early to mid-2015, with real devices incorporating the technology coming by the end of next year. The strips will only be able to interface with approved devices that license the platform.


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