Biolinq (formerly Electrozyme) has developed a skin-applied biosensor, disguised to look like a temporary tattoo, that can provide valuable feedback on how the body reacts to physical activity. Founded in 2012 by Joshua Windmiller, PhD, and Jared Tangney, PhD, Biolinq aims to add a new dimension to athletic performance for fitness enthusiasts of all levels.
Biolinq got its start in the UC San Diego Nanobioelectronics Lab where Windmiller, then a PhD candidate, researched biomarker panels and assays that could help identify and treat battlefield injuries without drawing blood. With funding from the Office of Naval Research, Windmiller focused on measuring biomarkers in mitochondrial areas going just under the skin.
Windmiller knew he was on to something and wanted to move from traditional academia into applied engineering where, he said, “Your self- worth is determined by developing a product that people will use.” He met Tangney, and the two like-minded partners decided to form Biolinq. But first they took a business/entrepreneur sequence at the UC Jacobs School of Engineering. “It was very challenging,” recalled Windmiller, “a complete 180 degrees.”
A wearable biosensor from Windmiller’s PhD project eventually evolved into the Biolinq technology. The epidermal tattoo takes readings of the body from the chemicals found in perspiration. The sensor measures lactate acid, electrolytes, and ammonia, three indicators that go well beyond the typical pulse/heart rate monitors currently on the market. Metabolic information provided by Biolinq is transmitted in real time to its user via a smart watch or armband worn over the tattoo, which is applied over a wrist or deltoid muscle before each workout.
The wrist and arm bands will be sold and developed by Biolinq’s strategic partners. The epidermal sensors, made from proprietary ink, are disposable.
“The sensors collect information and return feedback to you only when it’s necessary for you to take corrective action,” said Windmiller. “There hasn’t been a way until now to assess the metabolic implications of you going out for a run or you having that hamburger for lunch.” By paying attention to hydration levels, electrolyte balance, and muscle fatigue, an individual can boost performance and endurance while minimizing fatigue, recovery time, and the likelihood of injury.
World-class athletes who now undergo periodic blood draws to get this data have expressed interest in the Biolinq sensor. But Windmiller wants to reach anyone interested in wellness and physical fitness.
“Most people have limited time to exercise, so we see this as a value proposition,” he said. “With our device, you can get the same physiological effectiveness from a good 15-minute workout as you can from a 60-minute workout. The main goals are to burn fat and build your anaerobic capacity.”
Another possible application for the Biolinq sensor is monitoring calories. “Right now, all caloric monitors just use a certain algorithm that interpolates caloric loss, which is highly inaccurate,” says Windmiller. “Sweat rate is the best indicator of caloric burn.”
Biolinq was named a 2014 “Cool Company” by the San Diego Venture Group, and growing interest in wearable technology has brought high-profile media attention to the company; Consumer Reports, Computerworld, and U/T San Diego have all spotlighted the Biolinq tattoo. In December 2014, Biolinq garnered a Most Innovative Product Award in the Sport & Active Lifestyle Technologies for its ProFit SE Real-Time Sweat Electrolyte Sensor, a personal hydration monitor.
So far, Biolinq has raised $1.25 million in investments, including $250,000 from Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas mavericks NBA franchise. The Encinitas, Ca.-based company is currently conducting field trials in conjunction with a Fortune 100 strategic partner, according to Windmiller. Validation studies are being completed by a third party. The market release date is set for 2015.
4225 Executive Square #400, La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel: (858) 768-5649
Jared Tangney – CEO & Co-founder
Joshua Windmiller, PhD – CTO & Co-founder
Joseph Wang, PhD
SAIC Endowed Chair
Chair of Nanoengineering