Apple Looking To Create A Device That Can Identify Diabetes
Apple has hired small team of biomedical engineers to work on a secret project to monitor diabetic patients using sensors, according to a CNBC report.
With millions of people being affected by the disease worldwide, particularly in the last few years, this invention would be a big breakthrough for life sciences. Several tech companies have already tried to come up with better solutions to help those afflicted, but the biggest challenge here is to measure the sugar level accurately and as it currently stands, it is very difficult to track glucose levels accurately without piercing the skin.
According to sources, Apple has had almost 30 people assigned to this group for the past one year. But since Apple created a team of about a dozen biomedical experts from companies like Vital Connect, Masimo Corp, Sano, Medtronic, and C8 Medisensors, speculation has been flying around. Some of these people have joined the secretive team dedicated to glucose, sources said, while the others have been assigned to the Apple Watch team.
Apple is developing optical sensors, which involves shining a light through the skin to measure indications of glucose. Accurately detecting glucose levels has been a great challenge. One of the top experts in the field, John L. Smith, described it as “the most difficult technical challenge I have encountered in my career.” The space is littered with failures, as Smith points out, but that hasn’t stopped companies from continuing to attempt to crack this elusive opportunity.
Mostly patients monitor their glucose by pricking their fingers to draw enough blood to get a sample so getting it done without pricking would be a real game-changer. Sources revealed to CNBC that Apple is developing optical sensors that will shine a light through the skin to measure glucose levels in blood.
However, others have tried to come up with technology to bypass pricking before and it’s proven tough to do. Alphabet’s life science company Verily has also tried to take on the disease with a smart contact lens that measures blood glucose levels through the eye but some reports suggest the now three-year-old project isn’t going well.
But Apple’s project has been going on for at least five years, according to the report, and is now to the point where it’s ready to conduct feasibility trials. Apple has also reportedly hired consultants to help it jump through the inevitable regulatory hoops as well.
If this project is a success then, it would fit well with one of the company’s earlier visions. Steve Jobs believed Apple would one day be at the intersection of technology and biology, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography of him. The Apple Watch is already there, counting steps, calories burned, taking our heart rate and other biological measures. Add on a sensor you can take with you wherever you go and now you’re able to detect glucose levels without drawing blood and you’ve officially transformed an entire industry.