Last Thursday, CNBC reported Apple was allegedly working on sensors to monitor glucose levels in a non-invasive way. The technology would most likely land on the Apple Watch to make it an essential device for those who suffer from diabetes.
According to the news, the Cupertino-based company has a team of around 30 biomedical specialists working on these sensors. Christina Farr of CNBC said the project had been running for at least five years in a separate office located in Palo Alto.
Apple denied comments on the rumors, of course, but previous statements by CEO Tim Cook suggest the report might not be that far-fetched. If true, the tech giant could appeal to nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. alone who have diabetes or frequently monitor their blood sugar levels.
Health-focused tech is yet another Steve Jobs legacy
Steve Jobs, the inspirational tech leader and late CEO of Apple, reportedly was the first to envision the company working on sensors that could trace glucose without piercing the skin to draw blood.
Three insiders familiar with the initiative told CNBC that he had already talked about developing such technology before his passing in 2011. At the time, the Apple Watch had not even been announced.
Now, his successor Tim Cook is apparently bringing that vision to life, although nobody knows at what cost. Sources say work has been extensive and sensor trials have already been taking place at clinics in the Bay Area.
Blood sugar monitoring could make the Apple Watch lifesaving
Medical specialists are not surprised at the news that Apple is trying to tackle “the most expensive health care problem” nowadays in the U.S., as one expert said in a statement to CNBC.
Monitoring blood sugar levels through a non-invasive method is not only estimated to be crazy expensive (as much as $1 billion according to experts) but also a “really tough” puzzle to solve.
Diabetes patients simply don’t have any better and equally accurate alternatives to currently available glucose monitors. Those devices work by quickly analyzing blood samples that people themselves draw by pinching their fingertips.
Apple’s way involves an optical sensor that may be able to detect and read glucose level anomalies without involving needles. The project has a wide market, but it first has to comply with many regulations before the tests begin.
This has not discouraged Cupertino from trying, according to the report, and work on the sensors seems to be advanced enough that Apple is already in preliminary talks with lawyers about making this thing a reality.
“ONE DAY, THIS IS MY PREDICTION, WE WILL LOOK BACK AND WONDER: HOW CAN I EVER HAVE GONE WITHOUT THE WATCH? BECAUSE THE HOLY GRAIL OF THE WATCH IS BEING ABLE TO MONITOR MORE AND MORE OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE BODY,” Tim Cook said last year.
Other companies like Alphabet’s Verily are working in partnership with health tech startups like DexCom to develop similar solutions. The two firms are allegedly developing a contact lens that measures glucose from tears and ocular secretions.