An apple a day keeps the doctor away is an adage as valid today as it was then; however, this time we are picking a different kind of Apple – an Apple Watch, to be exact. A few months ago, CNBC reported that Apple was coming out with a smartwatch that could potentially monitor the tendency to develop diabetes with 85% accuracy. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, a big fan of the Apple watch tested a monitoring device that tracked his blood sugar levels in response to factors like food, exercise, and stress.
This non-invasive and continuous monitoring (as opposed to current methods that monitored blood sugar levels through intermittent pricks or blood drawing) was supposedly a project started by the late Steve Jobs. CNBC revealed that Apple has also bought a company called Cors sometime in 2010 when its then CEO Bob Messerschmidt (later absorbed by Apple) piqued Job’s interest in “sensor technologies for health and wellness”.
A few years ago, Apple reportedly hired a small team of bioengineers who worked on this secret project of developing non-invasive sensors somewhere in Palo Alto.The project apparently has advanced to the testing stage and was tried out in the Bay area.
Called the holy grail of smart wearables its entry into today’s healthspace is timely since the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and the slew of chronic metabolic diseases that result directly from the excess sugar in the bloodstream is alarming. Back in 2014, CDC reported that more than a third of those over 20 had prediabetes and that a full 12% of adults developed diabetes or were born diabetic.
Other apps monitor heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure but this Apple innovation is the first of its kind that could give some sort of “biofeedback” about sugar levels throughout the day so that the wearer could respond correct his diet, level-up exercise, and modify his lifestyle, in general. According to Cook, “It’s mentally anguishing to stick yourself many times a day to check your blood sugar.” Obviously, if this can be done painlessly, cheaply, and conveniently, more people will be able to monitor their health and can “self-correct” so as not to cross the bridge to developing full fledged diabetes from a metabolic syndrome state.
Speculations fly on the nature of the sensors. Some sources hinted that it could be optical in nature. The cost of the project is estimated to cost up to a billion dollars but the Apple Watch’s implications in healthcare is enormous. It is of no surprise that Aetna, a leader in health insurance was supposedly in secret talks with Apple to bring the watch to its 23 Million members. A successful piloting of this gadget would make it a “must-have” wearable – could embedding sensors on Apple phones be far behind?
Already, the Google life science team is at the heels of rival Apple with its own foray into smart contact lenses that can detect blood sugar levels. Started in 2015 with partner DexCom, Google hopes to market a miniature device, probably the size of a bandage.