From Perspiration to Information
Photo provided by Eccrine Systems
Forget phones and tablets and netbooks, 4K screens and 5K screens and bendable screens. The new game in town is wearables. Specifically, wearables that collect information in real time about your health.
A Cincinnati startup has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from, among other investment sources, CincyTech (which we profiled here).
The startup, Eccrine Systems, is an advanced sweat-sensor company. Formed in 2013, the company "develops disposable electronic patch systems based on innovative research and intellectual property that originated from the University of Cincinnati and Air Force Research Labs at Wright Patterson Air Force Base,” according to a press release.
Dr. Jason Heikenfeld, lead UC researcher and co-founder of the company, claims in the release that sweat secreted from eccrine glands in human skin can provide robust health data to sensors that can capture and transmit the data in real time.
“Although the analysis of sweat goes back to the 1950s, it never gained significant momentum as a non-invasive alternative to blood due to the limitations of fluid collection,” says Dr. Heikenfeld.
But times have changed. We’ve entered the era of microfluidics, nanotechnology, miniaturized electronics, continuous connectivity and cloud-based computing. “The convergence of these and other technologies will launch sweat into full prominence as the best non-invasive fluid source for secure, real-time monitoring of human physiological function or dysfunction,” says Dr. Heikenfeld. "We foresee many high-value applications for our SweatronicsTM platform across medicine, industry and sport.”
With Eccrine Systems’ sweat-sensing technology, it seems we’ve leaped into the world of biotechnology. For the technorati, this development is both fascinating and cause for excitement. It also provides some clarity to a biotech future that can sometimes bewilder. After all, visions for 2050 that deck our walls in touchable screens and supplant our cars with self-driving entertainment hubs powered by energy harnessed from the sun are exciting, surely, but they are easy to imagine because they simply scale current inventions to different aspects of our lives. Biotechnology is different. It’s difficult to imagine what the next ten, twenty and even fifty years will look like as it relates to biotech because these aren’t existing things we’re wallpapering onto other existing things. These are new things. And Eccrine is right there on the cusp of delivering them. But it isn’t without competition.
“We recognize there are many well-known companies vying for the attention of broad consumer markets for wearable devices, which often intersect with fashion trends and personal image choices,” says Robert Beech, Eccrine’s executive chairman and co-founder. "In direct contrast, our efforts are aimed at specialized and regulated medical and business markets that expect proof of data accuracy and chronological assurance, plus credible scientific studies related to physiological and economic outcomes. Furthermore, our low profile electronic patches are being designed for placement on discreet skin locations that do not interfere with work, play, sleep, or personal image preferences.”
According to the press release, Eccrine Systems is deploying a platform business model that seeks exclusive relationships with downstream partners across multiple market segments.
“There are very large opportunities in areas such as medication adherence, clinical trials management, industrial safety, medical diagnostics, treatment effectiveness, nutrition support and elite performance optimization,” explains Beech. "The secure, real-time monitoring of sweat biomarkers in these segments offers the potential for valuable breakthroughs in improved safety, effectiveness and economic outcomes. We bring to each partnership our pioneering IP portfolio, modular Sweatronics platform and innovative prototyping capabilities. In turn, our market-savvy partners collaborate closely with us to develop and embed Sweatronics patch systems within their respective product offerings.”
“The implications for real-time trending and interpretation of sweat biomarkers, derived from very tiny amounts of sweat captured under a small electronic patch, are profound,” states Mike Venerable, Managing Director at CincyTech. “The Eccrine team is very focused on enabling this important technology opportunity and its positive impact on many aspects of life.”
Eccrine Systems is a privately held company dedicated to improving human health, safety, and productivity through the innovation and development of advanced sweat sensor technologies. The Cincinnati-based company was founded in 2013 to commercialize technology and intellectual property that was exclusively licensed from the University of Cincinnati, and with the funding support of CincyTech and its expanding community of local, regional and national investment sources. Please learn more at www.eccrinesystems.com.
CincyTech is a public-private seed-stage investor whose mission is to be a trusted partner in helping to transform ideas into high potential technology companies in Southwest Ohio. Please learn more at www.cincytechusa.com.