3M invests in Zephyr, eyes biometric fabric sensors

3M invests in Zephyr Technologies, which makes biometric sensor systems for first responders, athletes, astronauts and soldiers.

3M announced this week that it has invested an undisclosed amount in Zephyr Technology, which develops real-time physiological monitoring for the healthcare, emergency, sports, military and industrial markets.

The series C financing round also included investments from Alsop Louie Partners and Motorola Solutions Venture Capital.

While it's technically a startup, the Annapolis, Md.-based company was founded nine years ago to pioneer physiological monitoring in training and high stress operational environments. It has since collaborated with sports teams, hospitals, fire departments, NASA's Ames Research Center and the U.S. Special Forces.

Specifically, Zephyr specializes in developing smart, biometric fabric sensors -- and the algorithms to make sense of the collected data -- to monitor ECG, heart rate, breathing rate, estimated core temperature, activity and posture.

In the healthcare industry,  that means the ability to monitor patients in ambulances and at home, such as for chronic diseases.

3M, a company best known for its adhesives but which also sells medical devices, networking equipment and aviation diagnostics systems, sees collaboration potential, particularly in its security division. In return, Zephyr benefits from 3M's enormous global footprint.

Here's a look at Zephyr's first responder tech:

3M's New Ventures arm has a keen eye for discovering the next big thing; with a focus on everything from energy to IT to architecture to mobility, we're looking forward to seeing what else it deems worthy of its money.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com