In what would be a game-changer for the more than 530 million people in the world who have diabetes, Bloomberg reports Apple is closing in on tech for its Apple Watch that can track a person’s blood sugar without skin pricks.
The company is tight-lipped about the project, which was conceived back when the company’s late founder Steve Jobs was still running things, and Apple has reportedly spent a fortune to see it bear fruit.
At the center of Apple’s breakthrough is what’s known as optical absorption spectroscopy: Lasers can scan an area below the skin and measure how much glucose is in the blood, calculated from how much light is reflected back.
As of now, diabetics have to use more invasive techniques to track their blood sugar. There’s the traditional pin-prick and paper tests; a wearable patch sensor that hides a needle is another option, paired to an app that can read the sensor’s findings.
However, a blood-free version of the test has been a Holy Grail for the biomedical tech field.
According to the publication, Apple has successfully tested the tech in larger-scale devices: What began as a table-sized monitor is now the size of a cellphone, and the goal is to shrink it all down to fit inside the ubiquitous watches.
Once just able to track a wearer’s steps, the Apple Watch has evolved into a device that can administer an EKG and also track one’s blood oxygen level; an onboard glucose monitor could be the next logical step.
Oh, and it still would tell the time.