A secretive team at Apple Inc. is developing wearable, no-prick, continuous blood glucose monitoring for its Apple Watch, Bloomberg reported.
"Really the holy grail for a smartwatch is to be able to tell you all of your health metrics, and one of the most important health metrics ... is blood sugar or blood glucose monitoring," said Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.
"Apple wants to create a system using chips, sensors, software algorithms built in to the Apple Watch," said Gurman, who explained that current, more invasive methods involve a finger stick or a blood draw. The technology Apple is developing requires no blood sample.
The secret project, called "E5," hit major milestones recently, and Apple believes it may eventually bring noninvasive, continuous blood glucose monitoring to market, Bloomberg reported in a separate piece last week. No pricking would be required.
Gurman said a measurement process called "optical absorption spectroscopy" and a chip technology called "silicon photonics" make the seemingly impossible feat a reality. The watch uses lasers in such a way that the concentration of glucose in a person's interstitial fluid can be estimated with a special algorithm.
An unidentified person familiar with the confidential initiative told Bloomberg the project is at the proof-of-concept stage.
One major hurdle still to be overcome involves the physical size of the device. An early version "sat atop a table," Bloomberg reported. Today, engineers are focused on getting it down to the size of an iPhone that would be strapped to a person's bicep. Ultimately, the tech could be integrated into the Apple Watch.
Apple's Exploratory Design Group, XDG, is in charge of the moonshot-like project. XDG comprises primarily "engineers and academic types," Bloomberg says. It was originally run by Bill Athas, who passed away suddenly in 2022.
Senior Vice President Johny Srouji now sits at XDG's helm. Top engineers and scientists on the glucose project include Jeff Koller, Dave Simon, and Bryan Raines, according to Bloomberg.
One major goal is to give both diabetic and non-diabetic people actionable information on their health. For non-diabetic people, the technology could allow them to take action, like changing eating habits or exercising, if their glucose levels suggested trouble.
For people with diabetes — more than 34.2 million in the United States, according to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation — the technology could mean a welcome relief from pricking their fingers multiple times a day or wearing disposable monitors that also involve a prick.
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