Bloomer Tech co-founders Alicia Chong Rodriguez and Aceil Halaby hold up a a Bloomer Tech smart bra and cardiac journal.

SBIR spotlight: Bloomer Tech

A smart bra aims to better detect and prevent heart problems in women

When Alicia Chong Rodriguez was an electrical engineering computer science student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she became immersed in using large systems and computational datasets for cardiovascular research. She quickly saw how data had the power to personalize and transform health care, but she found that women’s data were missing from much of what she and her fellow students had access to.

As Chong Rodriguez pored over the resources, she thought, “How can we collect faster, better, higher-resolution data from women?” And how could that data be used to better help detect, diagnose, and prevent heart disease? These questions led her and Aceil Halaby, a fellow MIT alumna, to launch Bloomer Tech in 2017. Through the start-up company, they have spent the past several years designing and testing a medical device to do just that.

“It’s a device that looks and feels like a bra,” said Chong Rodriguez.

Patented, textile-based sensors, which can sense cardiac activity, are shown in the band of a Bloomer Tech smart bra. 

The patented, textile-based sensors, which are still being studied, are incorporated into the band of the bra. There, they receive information about a woman’s heart, lungs, hormones, and metabolism. This information is sent through Bluetooth technology to a digital journal on a woman’s phone. That way she can track her cardiac activity and share that information with her doctor to help spot irregularities and manage her care.

“When it comes to the heart, time is of the essence,” said Chong Rodriguez. “We want to live in a world where you have the data when you need it the most.

At least 25 prototypes of the “smart bras” have been tested. This includes wireless, sports, maternity, and post-surgical bras, as well as tank tops to sleep in. Chong Rodriguez’s goal is to create bras for women of all shapes, sizes, and ages, and with all kinds of heart-related concerns. Some women may need the device to monitor their atrial fibrillation or increased risks for pregnancy-related heart problems, for example; others might need it to help them recover from heart failure, a heart attack, or heart surgery.

In 2023, the company won an award from NHLBI’s Small Business Innovation Program (SBIR) to support phase 2 research for this technology. This year it won the Innovation Pitch Challenge at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Session (ACC.24).

Stephen F. Flaim, Ph.D., a non-federal senior special advisor and investor-in-residence at NHLBI’s Innovation and Commercialization Office (I&C) said the recognition is well-deserved. Not only is the device designed by and for women, who make up half of the population; it’s also practical.

The smart bras can potentially help more women participate in research, too. An NHLBI SBIR-supported clinical research trial will soon assess if the devices can help more women complete cardiac rehabilitation after experiencing major events, such as having heart surgery.

Through future plans for commercialization, Chong Rodriguez and her colleagues are getting help from SBIR’s I&C. The office helps companies like Bloomer Tech participate in events such as ACC.24, that could lead to new partnerships or investors. “You can get bench to bedside in clinical trials, but you’ve got to go bench to boardroom,” Flaim explained. “That’s what our mantra is and what we try to help companies do.”

To bring these devices to women, the company will still need to submit the technology for review and receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Theoretically, once the devices are ready for market, Chong Rodriguez envisions the bras could become part of everyday life for women with heart problems. A likely scenario might involve someone who’s had a heart attack and notices new symptoms, like a faster heart rate, months later. They could use their digital journal to check for patterns and share that information with their doctor. This could help answer important questions: Should they keep their plans or stay close to home? Which symptoms are benign? Which require immediate care? Getting answers in real time could help improve a woman’s quality of life by eliminating long waiting periods between appointments, imaging exams, and test results.

The Bloomer Tech team is also studying how the technology could collect additional data about factors that can influence cardiovascular function, such as menstrual cycles for premenopausal women. Chong Rodriguez said this type of feedback could support cardiac care and complement information collected throughout research studies. For people who may not live close to medical centers or study locations, having the device makes giving that feedback all the more possible.

“It’s about meeting women where they are,” said Julia Berzhanskaya, Ph.D., a program director and lead for innovation support services at the I&C office. “Future devices like this could give patients ownership of their data and empower them to seek treatment or a path forward for managing their disease.”

Thinking back to her early MIT days, Chong Rodriguez said that this type of innovation was always her goal — finding a way to design innovative, accessible technology that can improve women’s health while advancing cardiovascular research.

“We wanted to do something different,” said Chong Rodriguez. “We look forward to being part of a future where better health care is available to everyone.”


To learn about women’s heart health, visit

To learn about NHLBI’s Small Business Innovation Program, visit


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