A report claims that Apple has formed a small team of biomedical engineers who are now working on a super-secret project to bring noninvasive blood sugar level sensors to the Apple Watch.
Many life sciences companies have tried to create noninvasive methods for determining blood sugar levels, but so far, all of them have failed, as it is very difficult to accurately monitor glucose levels without drawing blood. Will Apple succeed in a project that many others have failed at completing?
Apple Working On Noninvasive Blood Sugar Sensors
According to the report by CNBC, the team of biomedical engineers are holding office at a nondescript location that is miles away from Apple's corporate headquarters. Three sources familiar with the matter revealed that the project is far enough along that Apple is carrying out feasibility trials in locations around the Bay Area. The company has also tapped consultants to be able to hurdle all the necessary regulations for the sensors, with one of the sources stating that 30 people were working in the team last year.
The project, which has been in development for five years, was said to have been conceptualized by the late Steve Jobs. He envisioned wearable devices such as smartwatches being able to monitor the important health information of wearers such as their heart rate, oxygen level, and glucose level.
It is unclear how the feature will work, but one of CNBC's sources said that the technology that Apple's team is working on involves optical sensors that can shine light through the skin of wearers to take the blood sugar level measurement.
What This Would Mean For Diabetics And The Apple Watch
If Apple succeeds in its development of noninvasive blood sugar level sensors, it will provide a huge boost in the development of treatment for diabetes and help the hundreds of millions of people who are affected by the disease.
Space expert John L. Smith described the development of a method to accurately measure blood sugar levels without drawing blood from patients as "the most difficult technical challenge I have encountered in my career." Despite many companies having failed the endeavor, many others, and apparently including Apple, are still hard at work at creating such a method.
Since Apple launched HealthKit in 2014, there has been an increased focus by the company on health and fitness-related products. The direction was said to have been caused by a challenge from Jobs, who said that he wanted a solution to what was a disjointed healthcare system.
Jobs believed that technology will be able to solve the data gap currently found between healthcare professionals and patients, leading to the creation of the HealthKit and eventually the Apple Watch.
The addition of noninvasive blood sugar level sensors will likely not happen for the rumored third-generation Apple Watch said to be coming later this year, as it would seem that the technology is simply not ready.
The smartwatch industry has long been criticized due to the lack of a so-called killer app that would make the wearable devices a necessity. It is ironic that this killer app, if Apple succeeds, could turn out to be one that would help save people's lives.