Future Apple Watch could measure blood glucose, pressure, and alcohol levels

midian182

Posts: 6,653   +59
Staff member
In brief: Rumors that a future Apple Watch will include a slew of new health-focused features, including blood glucose monitoring, have been circulating for years. Now, a recent filing suggests the wearable really could offer a non-invasive way of measuring blood sugars, as well as blood pressure and even alcohol levels.

According to The Daily Telegraph, an SEC filing by UK health tech startup Rockley Photonics reveals that Apple has been its largest customer over the last two years, and it has an ongoing “supply and development agreement” with Cupertino. Rockley develops sensors able to detect various blood levels, including glucose, by firing infrared light through the skin.

The filing lends credence to reports from January that claimed Apple and Samsung are working on non-invasive blood glucose monitoring for their respective wearables. Conditions such as type 1 diabetes, which affects this writer, require checking blood glucose levels many times every day. It usually involves pricking a finger using a lancet and placing a drop of blood in a glucose meter, a process that causes marks, hardens skin, and can be uncomfortable.

While there are constant glucose monitors (CGMs) available, these are invasive, expensive, and easily knocked off the body. A smartwatch that does the same job would be revolutionary, providing the readings are accurate—even CGMs that measure glucose in the interstitial fluid aren’t always 100% correct.

Rockley's blood pressure-tracking tech would be a welcome feature for those with hypo/hypertension while also letting wearers check their BP during exercise. An alcohol monitor, meanwhile, could help users drink less excessively.

There’s still plenty of work to do before such sensors are reliable enough to be included in a smartwatch, so don’t expect to see them until next year at the earliest. Still, the prospect of painless and convenient glucose monitoring is an exciting one for many people with diabetes.

Masthead image credit: VI Studio

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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,391   +3,474
We've heard about glucose monitoring via smartwatch for several years now. As a diabetic I'm tired of hearing about this fromt he likes of apple and samsung. No CGM maker hss managed to get accurate readings from anything but blood. Perhaps I am being pessimistic, but I've been hearing about these "breakthroughs" for almost 20 years and very few of them have seen the light of day, let alone been practical.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 129   +99
We've heard about glucose monitoring via smartwatch for several years now. As a diabetic I'm tired of hearing about this fromt he likes of apple and samsung. No CGM maker hss managed to get accurate readings from anything but blood. Perhaps I am being pessimistic, but I've been hearing about these "breakthroughs" for almost 20 years and very few of them have seen the light of day, let alone been practical.
Non invasive monitoring tools cannot be as accurate as an actual blood test. Its good only because it gives you an indication if its trending up or down, but is unlikely to give a spot on reading.
 

PenguinJoe

Posts: 19   +8
Also a diabetic and using a flash monitoring system (like a cgm but on-demand rather than constantly pushing updates). I've seen about a 20% failure rate on the sensors I need to use mostly due to inaccuracy. While the maker is good about replacing faulty sensors it is a PITA to replace them partway thru their life. While good for watching trends they are not a replacement for good 'ol blood testing. What they are good for is alerting you to take more accurate readings when you see your blood glucose going in the wrong direction and dealing with it when necessary.
 

ikesmasher

Posts: 3,100   +1,492
Blood Oxygen, Glucose, EKG and Blood Pressure will only be accurate with some form of implant.
EKG works fine without implant on apple watch? blood oxygen sensor is a joke though. the fact that one is FDA certified and the other isnt speaks volumes.
 

R3ckless

Posts: 7   +7
The ever sense system fixes most of your issues with it being "knocked off" . The sensor sits under the skin, the transmitter sits on the outside. I have rough dogs and if they manage to get the transmitter off I can just stick it back on.

The only invasive part is when they take it out and put in every 90 days which is soon going to double to 180 (so 2 times ish a year instead of 3 and some change)

It takes 2 calibrations a day and 4 initially but its the most accurate system ive used. It provides over 255 data points a day. I am not paid to say that I am just a happy user of the system that just shares my experience.

It would be cool for a watch to somehow do that (how accurate can such a method be?) would be my only concern.
 

Mugsy

Posts: 714   +139
I'd be fascinated to hear how any "non-invasive" glucose reading works.

My father wears a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) sensor on his arm that must be replaced every 14 days at a cost of $70 (that's an expensive bit of tech to just toss in the trash every two weeks.) Even the CGM's accuracy fluctuates +/- 5 points with every reading, so "accuracy" isn't a huge deal so long as the number is close.

Agree with above comments that this concept has been discussed for years with nothing to show for it.
 

mbk34

Posts: 151   +87
My father wears a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) sensor on his arm that must be replaced every 14 days at a cost of $70 (that's an expensive bit of tech to just toss in the trash every two weeks.)
I suspect Apple and the like are trying to see how to monetise their CGM (assuming it exists). I'm also diabetic (type 1) and it really would be quite revolutionary to have such information. I'm not sure I could put up with wearing an Apple watch though, they look too much like children's sweets for me.