Eccrine Systems raises $5.5M, hopes to make sweat sensing the next big thing in wearables

By Jonah Comstock
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Eccrine Systems, a company that is commercializing wearable sweat-sensing technology developed at the University of Cincinnati and the Air Force Research Labs at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, has raised $5.5 million. The company set the terms of the round and the largest contributor was CincyTech Fund IV. "Other sources within the CincyTech local, regional and national investor community" filled out the round.

Sweat sensing came to the foreground of digital health earlier this year when a researchers at Stanford University and the University of California-Berkeley published a paper in Nature about a sweat tracking prototype. In an accompanying editorial, University of Cincinnati researcher and Eccrine Systems cofounder Jason Heikenfield argued that sweat sensing would be the next major breakthrough in wearables.

"Today’s commercially available wearables largely rely on decades-old technology,” he wrote at the time. “Their market success is due to a convergence of improved affordability and ergonomics and a rapidly growing consumer awareness of health. The next watershed in wearables will probably be driven by scientific breakthroughs. Sweat biomonitoring arguably has the greatest potential among the emergent non-invasive technologies.”

Robert Beech, Heikenfield's cofounder and the CEO of Eccrine, echoed those sentiments. 

“Sweat holds great promise as the best non-invasive source for acquiring the type of molecular data and physiological insights that the medical community has historically collected and analyzed from blood,” he said in a statement. “However, the use of sweat has been limited by the lack of means to accurately capture and report its real-time contents in the context of daily life, whether during work, sleep or play. Advances in microfluidics, nanotechnology, miniaturized electronics and power management are now making it possible to engineer wearable sweat sensing systems to monitor a wide array of sweat molecules in real time.”

Eccrine Systems is developing a sensor with applications that include industrial toxicity, fitness-for-duty, stress management, treatment effectiveness and various medical conditions. They have also been awarded a $3.96 million dollar contract by the United States Air Force Research Laboratory, focused on the development of a non-invasive sensing system for monitoring particular molecular biomarkers in human sweat.

This round brings the company's total funding to $7 million, after a $1.5 million round in 2015. It has recently grown to have more than 20 employees, the company said in a statement.