Even as Apple is developing new iPhones and getting ready to move into their incredible ring-shaped campus, they’ve been secretly working on a whole new kind of product: a wearable, non-invasive device that monitors the blood sugar for diabetics.
According to sources within CNBC, Apple has hired a small team of engineers who are working to develop the “holy grail for treating diabetes” to “develop sensors that can noninvasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes.” It will use optical sensors integrated into something like the Apple watch. The sensors would shine through the skin to measure glucose levels.
Apple isn’t the only company searching for diabetes cures. Google has two intriguing patents: the first is a needles-free way to draw blood: “[it] would send an abrupt surge of pressurized gas into a barrel connected to the skin. A small amount of the blood resulting from that would then be sucked up through the negative pressure of the barrel, allowing users to determine their blood sugar levels.
The second Google patent is for smart contact lenses, a technology they’ve played with before. The diabetes version uses a “tiny wireless chip and sensors to determine the glucose level in tears.” The project leaders wrote of the lenses: “We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds.”
While the contact lenses appear to have stalled—that statement from Google was delivered in 2014, with little follow-up—it is still the case that these massive tech companies have turned their sights on biomedical engineering products, using their expertise in technology to compete with traditional biomedical companies.
“It’s still early days for this kind of technology,” a Google spokesperson said,” but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.”