Apple’s Blood Glucose Monitoring for Apple Watch Reaches Proof-of-Concept: Report

Apple’s long-rumoured non-invasive and continuous blood glucose monitoring technology has reached the proof-of-concept stage after hitting some major milestones recently, according to a report from Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman.

Gurman has learned from people familiar with Apple’s efforts that the company now believes it could eventually bring the tech to market. Apple currently sees the technology as viable, but it needs to be shrunk down to a more practical size.

The team working on the project, part of Apple’s Exploratory Design Group (XDG), has managed to develop a prototype device about the size of an iPhone. Apple ultimately wants to integrate it into the Apple Watch, though.

If successful, the breakthrough could catapult Apple’s wearable to a must-have for millions of diabetics across the globe. In the U.S. alone, approximately one in every 10 individuals has diabetes.

Where most diabetics rely on glucose monitoring apparatus that pokes their skin for a blood sample to analyze, Apple’s system uses silicon photonics and a measurement process known as optical absorption spectroscopy to monitor glucose levels in the blood.

A sensor uses lasers to emit specific wavelengths of light into an area below the skin that contains interstitial fluid, which can be absorbed by glucose, and the light reflected back is analyzed to determine the concentration of glucose.

Apple has made significant strides in establishing the Apple Watch as a health tool. The wearable gained electrocardiogram (ECG) functionality with the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018, and the ability to measure blood oxygen levels with the Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020. Blood glucose monitoring could be the next step in cementing Apple’s dominance in the health tracking space.

That said, Apple’s no-prick blood glucose monitoring is more than 12 years in the making and has already cost hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development.

“There’s still years of work ahead, but the move could upend a multibillion-dollar industry,” Gurman noted. One of Apple’s biggest goals for the solution is to accurately detect if a person is prediabetic, at which point they could adopt lifestyle changes to help avoid developing Type 2 diabetes.

Apple has hundreds of XDG engineers working on the project. While we’ve been hearing whispers of Apple’s efforts in blood glucose monitoring from time to time, it remains one of the iPhone maker’s most secretive endeavours.

Over the last decade, Apple has tested its system with hundreds of people in human trials. The company has also compared its solution to more conventional glucose level tests conducted using blood drawn from veins or a prick in the skin.

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