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Monitor Diabetes

Future Versions of the Apple Watch Could be Used to Monitor Diabetes

That iThingy You're Wearing
April 13, 2017

Apple has secretly been working on non-invasive glucose screening technology that could be used to help monitor diabetes. That’s according to a new report from CNBC.

In the works for at least 5 years

In the works for at least 5 years

It’s not specifically mentioned in the report, but it’s safe to assume that the technology would be located on possible future versions of the Apple Watch.

Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs originally envisioned the technology:

The initiative is far enough along that Apple has been conducting feasibility trials at clinical sites across the Bay Area and has hired consultants to help it figure out the regulatory pathways, the people said.

The efforts have been going on for at least five years, the people said. Jobs envisioned wearable devices, like smartwatches, being used to monitor important vitals, such as oxygen levels, heart rate and blood glucose. In 2010, Apple quietly acquired a company called Cor, after then-CEO Bob Messerschmidt reportedly sent Jobs a cold email on the topic of sensor technologies for health and wellness. Messerschmidt later joined the Apple Watch team.

A big leap forward

A big leap forward
Current glucose monitoring systems, like the One Drop kit available through Apple, require some blood to be drawn.

Current glucose monitoring systems, like the One Drop kit available through Apple, require some blood to be drawn.

Diabetes, which is a disease that causes too much glucose in the blood, is a huge medical issue that can cause a number of complications. According to the CDC, in the United States, almost 10 percent of the population has the disease.

The blood sugar levels in diabetics need to be consistently monitored, in some situations a number of times per day. Currently, the only way diabetics can check the blood sugar levels is through some type of invasive method like a small blood draw.

A good example is the One Drop Blood Glucose Monitoring Kit available for $99.95 from Apple. While the system is wireless and works with iOS devices and even the Apple Watch, blood needs to be drawn to take an accurate reading.

The report noted that Apple could be developing an optical sensor that can monitor glucose levels through the skin continuously which would be a huge medical breakthrough if successful. And it could turn future versions of the Apple Watch into a must-have medical device that can be used to help better manage the disease.