Apple has been focusing on finding a way to bring noninvasive, continuous glucose monitoring to the market using the Apple Watch for a while now and it could finally be here soon. The technology giant has reportedly made some major breakthroughs recently, signaling that the company is closer than ever to this healthcare moonshot.
It has been speculated that the project dates back to Steve Jobs’ tenure as CEO, with hundreds of engineers now working on it as part of Apple’s Exploratory Design Group, an effort akin to Google X. Apple has utilized a chip technology known as silicon photonics and even managed to get Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to build the main chip for the feature.
For an effective noninvasive way to measure blood glucose levels, the system relies on lasers to emit specific lights into the skin that would absorb the glucose molecules before returning to an Apple-designed silicon photonics chip. An algorithm then would immediately interpret the reflected light, helping figure out the blood glucose level.
As of now, the company has tested this technology with hundreds of people over the last decade, comparing the results to those of standard prick-based tests. Meanwhile, Apple is attempting to create a preventative measure that can alert individuals if they’re pre-diabetic and are also having early discussions about acquiring government approval for the system.
Even though the system is still in the “proof-of-concept stage”, Apple believes that the technology is viable and its engineers have also been exploring ways to shrink it down to an iPhone-sized device that can be worn as an arm strap.
Apple has put tremendous resources into this endeavor, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in it and having their top executives such as CEO Tim Cook, COO Jeff Williams, and Apple Watch Hardware Chief Eugene Kim personally overseeing the project.
The potential to use the Apple Watch to monitor a person’s glucose levels discretely and continuously can be life-changing for those dealing with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or even people who are unaware if they are predisposed to the condition. If this technology is successfully implemented, it could also provide a platform for discovering and managing diabetes more efficiently and make it easier to catch the signs before they start.
The news of Apple’s progress in this field is extremely exciting and we hope that the company can find a way to bring such a feature to the market soon. We’d love to hear your thoughts about Apple’s glucose monitoring technology as well and how it could impact the way diabetes can be treated.