Apple’s ambitious plan to add glucose monitoring to the Apple Watch has been reported on numerous times in these last few years but we have yet to see it. Now, it seems like Apple’s vision is finally beginning to materialize. According to a new report, the tech giant has recently hit “major milestones” in the development of no-prick glucose monitoring for Apple Watch.
Apple has been working on glucose monitoring for Apple Watch since the Steve Jobs era
The development of a glucose monitoring feature for Apple Watch is internally viewed as a “moonshot-style project,” due to its exploratory and groundbreaking nature. The tech giant has been working on it since the Steve Jobs era and it intends to use this project as a way to bring ” “noninvasive and continuous blood glucose monitoring” to the Apple Watch.
A new report from Bloomberg claims that Apple had previously concealed its involvement in this initiative under a “secretive health-care startup.” According to the publication, Apple’s “Exploratory Design Group” is now working on this project with hundreds of engineers.
Hundreds of engineers are working on the project as part of Apple’s Exploratory Design Group, or XDG, a previously unreported effort akin to Google X. It’s one of the most covert initiatives at the famously secretive Apple. Even fewer people are involved in it than the company’s self-driving car undertaking, overseen by the Special Projects Group, or the mixed-reality headset, which is being developed by its Technology Development Group.
Bloomberg says that Apple is approaching noninvasive blood glucose monitoring differently than other businesses have, in the past. The tech giant is using optical absorption spectroscopy as a method of measurement and silicon photonics as a chip technology.
Apple is taking a different approach, using a chip technology known as silicon photonics and a measurement process called optical absorption spectroscopy. The system uses lasers to emit specific wavelengths of light into an area below the skin where there is interstitial fluid — substances that leak out of capillaries — that can be absorbed by glucose. The light is then reflected back to the sensor in a way that indicates the concentration of glucose. An algorithm then determines a person’s blood glucose level.
The glucose monitoring system will rely on a variety of silicon photonics devices and sensors created by Apple. The core chip that will power the function will be built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
As of right now, Apple’s engineers are concentrating their efforts on the development of a “prototype device about the size of an iPhone that can be strapped to a person’s bicep.” For the past ten years, “hundreds of people” have tested the functionality, and Apple has compared the results to samples from conventional finger-prick tests.
The company has tested the glucose technology on hundreds of people over the past decade. In human trials, it has used the system with people who don’t know if they’re diabetic, as well as people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. It has compared its own technology to standard tests on blood drawn from veins and samples taken from a prick in the skin, known as capillary blood.
A preventative measure that alerts patients to their prediabetes is another goal of the company. According to reports, Apple has already had preliminary negotiations regarding obtaining regulatory permission for the system.
Apple’s system is still in the “proof-of-concept stage” despite these recent accomplishments. The company’s current belief in the viability of the technology and the necessity for it to be scaled down to a more practical form go hand in hand.
Apple executives believe that the tech giant is “uniquely positioned” to make a breakthrough in the potential functionality of no-prink glucose monitoring. Bloomberg notes that it has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in development.