Apple makes significant progress on no-prick blood glucose monitoring for its watch.
Apple Inc. is working on a moonshot-style project that dates back to Steve Jobs’ time: noninvasive and continuous blood glucose monitoring.
The purpose of this covert project, called E5, is to determine how much glucose is in someone’s body without having to prick their skin for blood. According to those familiar with the endeavor, the business now believes it can ultimately bring glucose monitoring to market after passing critical milestones lately.
If developed, such a breakthrough would be a godsend to diabetics and help Apple solidify its position as a healthcare superpower. The eventual objective of incorporating the monitoring system inside the Apple Watch would also make the gadget a must-have item for millions of diabetics worldwide.
There is still much work to be done, but the move has the potential to upend a multibillion-dollar business. Diabetes affects around one in every ten Americans, and blood samples are commonly collected using a device that pokes the skin. Dexcom Inc. and Abbott Laboratories also make patches that are put into the skin and must be updated every two weeks.
Apple is adopting a different approach, employing silicon photonics chip technology and an optical absorption spectroscopy measuring technique. The technology employs lasers to direct certain wavelengths of light into a location beneath the skin containing interstitial fluid — chemicals that leak from capillaries and can be absorbed by glucose. The light is subsequently reflected back to the sensor in such a way that the concentration of glucose is shown. The blood glucose level of a person is then determined using an algorithm.