An Akron-Based Startup is Helping Athletes Sweat Smarter

How SweatID measures sodium concentration in real time to optimize hydration

An athlete uses the SweatID device while working out

For any athlete, hydration is a key part of achieving peak performance. However, depending on the individual and the intensity of their activity level, staying properly hydrated isn’t as simple as drinking water when you’re thirsty. So, how can athletes better understand their optimal levels to maximize fitness and performance? Akron startup SweatID is up to the challenge, with cutting-edge fabric sensors that measure sodium to personalize rehydration.

“SweatID is a wearable fabric sensor that’s designed to teach people about their sweat to prevent illness and injury,” founder Chelsea Monty-Bromer said. “We consider ourselves a health and wellness device, and we’re rethinking the way coaches train their athletes by giving them personalized biomarker information that wasn’t previously available.”

When TechOhio last spoke with the SweatID team, the startup went by RooSense, a tribute to the mascot at the University of Akron, where Monty-Bromer first developed the technology. When she became a professor at Cleveland State University, the startup pivoted toward a new name and a broadened vision.

“We originally developed fabric sensors that worked with a cooling device to help prevent athletes with lower limb prosthetics from sweating while exercising,” Monty-Bromer said. “Then we talked with some triathletes who said they wished they knew how much sodium they lost during a race, so we started writing grants to explore that. We’ve gotten funding from the National Science Foundation, the Ohio Third Frontier, and we’ve used that to scale up the platform and bring the product to market.”

Athletes and members of the military are SweatID’s current focus, but the startup’s goal is to provide a platform that helps all people improve their health and fitness, not just those with high activity levels. As the company continues to scale, it’s looking toward more long-term goals of using AI to generate hydration plans from the data gathered by SweatID sensors.

“In the short term, we want to prove the success of the technology in some small-scale pilots with our launch partners,” she said. “In the long term, we want to grow the platform and get more involved with data analytics and AI to be more consumer friendly. We’ll start with people who have access to coaches and trainers who can help them understand our information and then push the exercise science forward so that we can get it in the hands of everyday users.”

SweatID is forecasting good progress and forward trajectory in the year to come. The startup is moving past the prototype phase to begin fulfilling purchase orders and is planning for additional funding rounds on the horizon. Monty-Bromer said local Ohio organizations that partner with Ohio Third Frontier, like Bounce Innovation Hub and JumpStart, have been avenues of support in bolstering the company as it grows.

“Ohio has a lot of great resources, especially around the Northeast, but also Ohio as a whole,” she said. “The collaboration we have with Cleveland State, the University of Akron, and the University of Dayton Research Institute, among others, is incredible. Personally, I think this area is a great place to grow and start a company.”

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