MC10 flex electronics to track health, deliver meds, aid transplants

Startup MC10 wants to make wants to take wearable “stretchy electronics” to the next level — where they will not only monitor health conditions but deliver medications or other treatment in a minimally invasive way, said CEO David Icke.

MC10 CEO David Icke speaking at EMtech 2012.y

This week, the company announced a deal with Reebok (s rbk) to deliver a soft electronic skullcap to be warn under helmets to detect impact. The electronics in that cap will provide athletes, coaches and doctors more data on potential concussions — a huge area of concern for professionals and child athletes alike. In a recent Pop Warner football game in suburban Boston, for example, five kids suffered concussions. The skullcap is due next year.

“It won’t diagnose concussions but will be another set of eyes on the field,” Icke said at MIT’s EMtech 2012 on Thursday.

The company makes the silicon extremely thin and then embeds it in flexible materials. “We build stretchable interconnects, encapsulating all that so it can survive under tough conditions,” he said.

He sees several possible applications. Skin- or tattoo-like sensors could help athletes train up to their peak but prevent them from going overboard, for example. The electronics can also be used in catheter-based devices for minimally invasive procedures. At the other end of the spectrum, thin fabric-like film containing sensors could be used in organ transplant procedures to detect possible rejection or other problems. The company is also working on personal UV and SPF sensors to track sun exposure.

Wearable sensors that provide real-world data — without forcing  the user to input information into a smart phone — could cut healthcare costs and improve care, Icke said.

The ability to continuously track an individual’s  metrics —  heart rate, breathing patterns, or what have you — gives clinicians better and broader data. “Instead of having episodic care, this means you access healthcare only if and when you need it,” Icke said.

Cambridge, MA-based MC10 is hardly flying under the radar. It won the Wall Street Journal‘s innovation award in the semiconductor category earlier this year.

Feature photo courtesy  of Flickr user Schlüsselbein2007