SmartBurn using human breath as a sign of athletic performance

When one releases a breath, not much thought is given to the information being whisked away. With that rhythmic breath, an individual is exhaling a map to a healthier lifestyle — something to be navigated by entrepreneur Joe Kremer.

SmartBurn is a patent-pending technology that identifies if an individual’s metabolism results in weight gain or weight loss. This product, called Energy Balance, measures the changes in whole body “macronutrients” such as proteins, carbohydrates and lipids before and after training.

Beginning with UW-Madison technology, Kremer’s team at Isomark LLC developed a technology that utilizes the stable carbon isotope of carbon dioxide, which is present in exhaled breath.

Kremer explains that carbon, like all elements, exists in several forms called isotopes. Isotopes are atoms of the same element, but with slightly different molecular weights.

“Carbon 14 is radioactive; it is the molecule scientists use for carbon dating ancient artifacts. Carbon 12 and 13 are stable, and are the basis of Isomark’s technology,” said company president Kremer.

He’s looking to expose SmartBurn to the world of fitness to provide accurate data to optimize performance. The product began as a partnership with the UW-Madison Badgers football team, collecting real-time individualized feedback on the players’ metabolism.

While athletes are known to be peak physical performers, a number of them live with respiratory conditions. Because Isomark only requires a small amount of breath, athletes who tend to require more oxygen while performing can reap the benefits of the data.

“While we have not tested the technology specifically for asthma, we expect it should perform just as well in individuals with respiratory conditions,” Kremer said. “In our infection study, we had an individual with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and the technology performed as expected in that case as well.”

With this technology, Kremer can measure how an individual’s body uses carbohydrates, proteins and lipids for metabolic energy. With this information, nutritionists could make suggestions for the user’s nutritional health.

SmartBurn aims to be a user-friendly product that, while beneficial with guided coaching, also provides results the user can decipher. “The results are simple. A positive value means a high carb use during intense training; a negative value means lipid burn,” said Kremer.

SmartBurn will collect the athletes’ breath into a bag that is then attached to the machine. Once the data is collected, SmartBurn can offer information that can suggest what an individual should do for nutrition, rest and recovery.

“Results are intended to be delivered automatically after analysis. I envision a smartphone app that would alert the individual with a push notification as results become available,” Kremer said.

As SmartBurn grows, Kremer and his team will start by branding supplies to teams, trainers, coaches and programs. The next step is to sell directly to consumers and mail samples to central labs.

While SmartBurn will enter a world with established health monitoring brands, it is looking to be the first of its kind with patent-pending technology. Other patents for Isomark LLC, which can be used to detect infections in a person much earlier than other tests, are held through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and are based on research by the late Mark Cook.

SmartBurn was one of 24 companies to present during the Tech Council Investor Networks tracks during the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, held in November in Madison.

By Mariah Watts

Watts is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.