Most wearable devices rely on sensors that are outside your body. This makes them convenient to put on and take off, but you need to remember to do so. Implanted sensors have a “set it and forget it” convenience, but then you have the problem of how to extract the data.

Two companies have teamed up to solve this very problem. Profusa makes tiny sensors that can be implanted below your skin. Their current Lumee product measures interstitial oxygen levels to monitor the oxygen supply to tissues. This is useful for applications such as wound healing and athletic training. The hydrogel biosensor is about the size of a grain of rice, and emits a varying amount of light when illuminated, so no power source is required. The sensors already have CE approval to be worn up to 6 months, and that limit is constantly being extended as the company gains more clinical experience.

The other part of the story is that the company has partnered with NextFlex to design the external reader for manufacturing. The company has extensive experience in designing medical devices, among a myriad of other kinds of products. The Profusa reader was developed in just four months, thanks to NextFlex’s tightly integrated research center and fab. NextFlex’s engineers were able to help with designing flexible electronics, optical emitters and sensors, and manufacturing-friendly materials. The end result is smaller and more flexible than Profusa’s original concept.

This is an excellent example of how a small health tech startup can create a novel concept, but then turn to an outside partner to provide the missing expertise required to bring a product to market. And this is the start of a biosensor platform that can be used to measure other important biomarkers; glucose is one target on Profusa’s road map.