Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Report: Apple working on non-invasive glucose testing device

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says that Apple is working on a “moonshot” project for continuous non-invasive blood glucose testing, and that it’s looking promising:

Apple is taking a different approach, using a chip technology known as silicon photonics and a measurement process called optical absorption spectroscopy. The system uses lasers to emit specific wavelengths of light into an area below the skin where there is interstitial fluid — substances that leak out of capillaries — that can be absorbed by glucose. The light is then reflected back to the sensor in a way that indicates the concentration of glucose. An algorithm then determines a person’s blood glucose level.

Rumors of Apple working on this have been around for at least as long as the Apple Watch, and it meshes nicely with the company’s focus on health.

But there are a lot of challenges still to overcome. Gurman mentions that the prototype is likely to be the size of an iPhone and will be strapped to the user’s bicep. Obviously, the company will probably want to get it smaller (and less obtrusive) than that over time. In an ideal world, I’m sure they would like it to be simply a feature of the Apple Watch, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the first version is an accessory.

The bigger challenge is probably regulation. Apple can get away with saying that the Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor is “not intended for medical use” and “only designed for general fitness and wellness purposes.” That’s not going to cut it with glucose monitoring, where an inaccuracy could have significant damaging consequences to those who rely on it. This tech needs to be absolutely rock solid before the company can deploy it, which suggests that it may still be many years before it’s ready for consumer use.

—Linked by Dan Moren

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