By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
Wearable companies all over the world are racing to create devices that tell you what’s going on in your body. They’re on sports bras, wristwatches, necklaces and even cocktail rings. They can be stuck on wounded areas to measure pain. And then there’s WiseWear, whose tiny platform promises to “See Inside” the body and “collect contextually aware data that is automated and derived from multiple sources.” WiseWear’s tiny sensor platform monitors heart rate, movement—including what your exercise regime is producing–and dehydration, and its Bluetooth device lets it communicate with other devices to monitor health.
“Sensor technology empowers individuals to live a happy, healthy and productive life,” said CEO and Founder Jerry Wilmink. “This lets you really see everything that happens in the body. The first generation of wearables only measured one or two things and in many cases it was highly inaccurate. This is a platform and there are several use cases ranging from a patch to a watch version…. It’s highly accurate monitoring captures and gives you a really good pulse on what’s happening inside your body.”
WiseWear plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign in August for pre-sales of its first wearable device, called “Evolve,” according to a company press release. The device “adheres directly to the user’s chest with ultrathin, ultra soft, transfer-printed micro-circuitry and sensors.” The device collects biometric data that is then transmitted wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet for data analysis.
Wilmink got his bachelor’s and master’s in biochemical engineering at Vanderbilt then, he said “Snuck into the Ph.D. program.” When he graduated, he was a research associate with the National Academy of Sciences and then moved to the Department of Defense where he founded the first Terahertz bioeffects research laboratory where he began to develop WiseWear. “I hand picked the talent and grew it from nothing to a pretty big laboratory. We were connecting the dots, being creative, finding the talent, building a rock star team with tremendous potential.” For the first time, he said, he wasn’t competing on pure IQ but on creativity. That became his prime criteria for teammates.
Wilmink also received his Executive MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, class of 2014.
His interest in biotechnology, Wilmink said, came from growing up with his grandparents. Once his grandfather—a Sicilian with a black Cadillac who smoked cigars and listened to Sinatra—fell. He seemed fine on Thanksgiving and ended up dying the day after Christmas. The fall, it turns out, was because of a change in his grandfather’s gait, which is an indication of dehydration.
“If we had noticed he had changes in his gait, we could have prevented him from falling,” Wilmink said. “Our initial product was a line sensor system to pick up when a senior was dehydrated and his gait was changing. Fifty percent of seniors over the age of 65 who fall end up passing away in the next six months. And that’s not connected to the severity of the fall.”
Keeping track of what’s going on inside the body before it manifests in a negative way is a big step toward prevention, according to WiseWear advisor, Dr. David Katz Head of Yale Health & Preventative Medicine.
“WiseWear is designed to … provide personalized, real-time feedback about an individual’s daily activities fully integrated with accurate heart rate, respiration, hydration, and by providing direction, motivation, and even a kind of oversight and accountability. This kind of feedback is known to encourage healthy behaviors- and now you can get it from something that’s practically a part of you.”
“This allows a user to take a proactive kind of action to treat health and wellness rather than treat disease, “ Wilmink said. And running this company, after his long journey is “all, absolutely exhilarating.”
Founded in March of 2013, WiseWear is based in both San Antonio and Austin. The company recently moved into Geekdom, a coworking space and technology incubator in downtown San Antonio. Wilmink has raised more than $1 million in seed stage funding, and the company plans to raise a Series A round of funding next year. Wilmink has put together a team of experts including Ph.Ds, MBAs, C-Level executives and others. The company has also licensed its intellectual property from the University of Texas, according to a company release.
WiseWear plans to release its consumer products and then pursue clinical trials and FDA approval for a line of medical products. The company has plans for a device called WiseDoctor to accurately record a patient’s vital signs, hydration and activity in a hospital setting. Future products will be targeted at monitoring babies, seniors, diabetics and even pets.
Editor’s note: THis article appears in the Silicon Hills News print edition on the Life Sciences industry in central Texas.