MC10’s Wearable Electronics in action

Imagine slapping a sticker on your arm that could measure a wide array of medical indicators—heart rate, body temperature and more —and transmit that data wirelessly to your smartphone. That’s just one application of the wearable, bendable electronics that Cambridge-based MC10 is pioneering.

The company announced this morning that it has raised an additional $10 million in Series C financing from strategic investor Medtronic, a publicly traded medical technology company focused on chronic disease. An unnamed consumer tech company joined the round, as did previous investors Braemar, North Bridge, Osage University Partners and Terawatt Ventures.

Here’s how MC10 describes its technology in a release:

MC10 is developing products that can be used both on and inside the body, including sensors that monitor head impact, heart rate, brain activity, muscle function, body temperature and hydration, as well as an entirely new class of intelligent medical devices with embedded sensors for enhanced sensing and therapeutic capabilities.

As you might imagine, there’s a whole range of possible applications, and the MC10 website includes sections for consumer, industrial, medical and military. The company announced that its first consumer facing product—a wearable indicator that recorded head impact produced in conjunction with Reebok—would be available in early 2013.

But today’s funding announcement sheds some light on the company’s direction. The logic of focusing on the chronic disease market is that there’s a lot of money to be spent there, meaning it’s a wise place to test a technology that I have to guess is still coming down the cost curve.

I summarized the challenge of chronic disease in this post, but in a nutshell: healthcare costs are spiraling out of control and a small subset of patients with chronic diseases are largely responsible. Those patients are so expensive that even relatively costly measures to prevent the onset of disease can make economic sense. Even, say, providing at-risk individuals with wearable electronics to better measure various health indicators.

“The work that MC10 is pursuing on flexible electronics has myriad applications in the device industry,” said Dr. Stephen Oesterle of Medtronic, in the release. “Several of our business units have been collaborating with MC10 for many years, and this investment should catalyze an expanded relationship between our two companies.” Oesterle will join MC10 as a board observer.

Of course, there’s the consumer health investor, too, suggesting MC10 is still quite focused on that market as well. And one can imagine any number of cool applications there: better workouts, immediate feedback on your diet and who knows what else.

The company has raised more than $30 million since its founding in 2008.