Non-Invasive Biosensing Companies to Look Out for in 2018

Non-Invasive Biosensing Companies to Look Out for in 2018

By Daniel Morales

Wearable, non-invasive biosensors combine the innovations in wearable electronics with miniaturized biosensing technology. They are typically offered in the form of small, portable objects that can be worn on the body, integrated into clothing or integrated into handheld devices. Such biosensors must be able to accurately measure analytes that are typically retrieved invasively. Compared to invasive devices, non-invasive sensors have non-infectious properties and enable real time lifestyle improvements that will be widely adopted by consumers due to the lack of pain and discomfort. Measuring factors that are typically retrieved from the blood or other invasively-obtained fluids will help in detecting various diseases at an early stage and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition, the sensors must provide, quick, convenient and cost-effective measurements in order to be adopted by patients and other consumers who are interested in maintaining their health.

How sensors have evolved and where the market is heading:

Such sensors are considered to be a one of the largest growing areas in the healthcare technology sector. First generation wearable biosensors have been on the market for some time, and they enable continuous monitoring of parameters such as pulse rate, sleeping habits, calories burned, and skin temperature. Biosensors that can monitor physiological changes that monitor lifestyle or chronic diseases (second generation) are highly sought after.

Many wearable biosensor companies are focusing on measuring blood pressure without the need for applied pressure. This is due to the prevalence of cardiovascular disease as well as the relative simplicity of the measurement compared to other analytes of interest for 2nd generation wearables, which include glucose, body fat, alcohol and hydration monitoring. Glucose is arguably the holy grail of analytes to be measured non-invasively with a wearable device because such technology could prevent diabetics from having to extract blood to determine their glucose levels. Apple has reportedly been developing a non-invasive glucose monitoring system using the Apple Watch, but a news report claims the feature won’t be shipping anytime soon.

In addition to being able to accurately detect the analytes of interest, other capabilities are being developed for next generation, wearable biosensors: low power/self-powered electronics, flexibility, and material diversity. While integrated circuits continue to become smaller, batteries are becoming a bottleneck to miniaturization. Hence, academic researchers are focusing on developing self-powered devices by harvesting heat from the body. Flexible, stretchable devices are a current trend for electronic devices, which will allow sensors to be worn comfortably on any part of the body. In addition, the development of nanotechnology is enabling more precise and accurate sensing mechanisms due to the incredibly high surface area to volume ratio of nanoparticles.

The following startups are developing interesting non-invasive measuring techniques for biosensor devices:

Sweatronics Platform:

The Sweatronics Platform by Eccrine Systems is capable of measuring multiple analytes from sweat. They are developing patches that can be placed on various locations of the body. These devices will be able to measure glucose and hydration levels among the other analytes present in sweat. Eccrine Systems was recently awarded a 2017 North American Technology Innovation Award by Frost and Sullivan.

SCiO by Consumer Physics:

Consumer Physics has created the first dongle molecular sensor called the SCiO Spectrometer. The device is marketed to both consumers and businesses. The handheld device can be used to directly scan objects and materials to have instant information about their chemical makeup sent directly to one’s smartphone.

Nix Biosensors:

This startup from Harvard is developing, wearable, single-use hydration sensors that determine hydration levels to inform athletes when to drink and what to drink. The sensor is unique in that it utilizes a stimuli-responsive hydrogel to determine the biomarkers in sweat. Nix recently was a winner at the 2017 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and, as a consequence, is in talks to work with Reebok.

ContinUse Biometrics:

ContinUse Biometrics has a proprietary sensing platform that is capable of determining more than 20 bioparameters. This unique technology can detect and analyze the vibrations of internal organs at the nanolevel. As a consequence, the technology can determine various health parameters from a distance with high accuracy. ContinUse Biometrics was recently awarded a 2017 North American Technology Innovation Award by Frost and Sullivan.

Featured image courtesy of Consumer Physics.

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