by Michael Belfiore
Innovator Greg Sommer
Chief executive officer of Sandstone Diagnostics, an eight-employee startup in Livermore, Calif.
Form and function
The Trak male fertility testing system is a battery-powered home centrifuge that spins semen samples to isolate sperm cells and count their number, the main indicator of male fertility. A custom app tracks counts over time.
Sommer, a mechanical engineer, co-founded Sandstone in 2012 with biomedical engineer Ulrich Schaff and entrepreneur Sara Naab. Trak is their first product.
The 4-inch-wide, 3.5-inch-tall centrifuge spins a disposable cartridge containing semen. Gradations on the cartridge let the user measure how many sperm cells are concentrated at the bottom of the container.
An app tallies sperm counts and monitors lifestyle habits, offering personalized recommendations over time to help men enhance their fertility.
Trak targets men who want to gauge their fertility outside of a clinical setting.
The only other at-home male fertility test kit on the market, SpermCheck, offers less-detailed test readings (“normal,” “below normal”) and no tracking app.
“I’m sure the test is accurate in terms of the count,” says University of Minnesota professor of medicine Bruce Redmon, a specialist in male reproductive health. While there are other valuable data points, Redmon says Trak measures “the most important number you’d want to know.”