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Apple Watch Vs Diabetes: The Glucose Monitoring Story So Far
For as long as the Apple Watch has been rumoured, there have been murmurs that the company will one day build a wearable that is capable of offering continuous glucose monitoring. Suffice it to say, that would be a big deal for a lot of people not just diabetics.
The Apple Watch isn’t quite there yet in terms of offering this serious health tracking feature, but it seems as if it’s working to try and make it happen.
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As Apple continues to make a bigger push into health, we explore how the smartwatch is already working with glucose monitoring devices, the challenges Tim Cook and company face to offer the monitoring from its its own wearable and how it could actually take shape.
Can An Apple Watch Check Blood Sugar
Health and technology form a stronger relationship each passing year. New medical devices paired with technological platforms create amazing opportunities for patients with diabetes. Dexcom is a company that creates glucose monitoring systems for patients with diabetes in order to manage diabetes in a simpler, more convenient way. This relatively new technology is being pursued by the giant tech company, Apple, to create a watch that monitors blood sugar.
Apple and Dexcom collaborated to use Dexcoms CGM technology and Apples information systems platform to collect, display, and send glucose monitoring data to the Apple Watch. Once displayed on the Apple watch, the patient can easily view blood glucose levels in real-time. This is an amazing advantage for patients with diabetes who can now respond in a proactive way instead of reacting to a negative situation. This is an exciting time in healthcare technology where medical devices are being created and distributed to the masses at lower costs.
Features of the Dexcom Tool
The Apple Watch uses an app that can monitor blood glucose levels. The watch itself does not have a sensor on it to monitor blood glucose levels, but rather collects the data from the Dexcom device and displays it on the watch for convenience, safety, and around-the-clock monitoring. Patients must only look down at their watch to see current blood glucose levels. Amazing!
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Advantages of Continuous Glucose Monitoring
Which Apple Watch Should I Get To Monitor Diabetes
The first question Gillian brought to me is whether theres any drawbacks to her getting the Apple Watch SE over the Apple Watch Series 6. The Series 6 is the best smartwatch weve tested and an impressive health tool, but its outside of her budget. The Series 3 doesnt offer fall detection, which would help if irregular insulin levels caused Gillian to faint.
Compared to the Apple Watch 6, the Apple Watch SE lacks an electrocardiogram reader, blood oxygen monitoring and an always-on display. In my experience with the Series 6 so far, the always-on display is the real deal-breaker for an average user, but its less of a sell for Gillian. In fact, shed worry about the never-dark OLED screen on her wrist distracting her students.
Jake Green, another 23-year-old with type 1 diabetes, has owned the Apple Watch Series 4 since Dexcoms Apple Watch app debuted two years ago. He has no plans to upgrade to one of the newest smartwatch models despite the availability of new features.
For what I need, Im set with the Apple Watch 4, Green said. Its not like blood oxygen monitoring is important in terms of glucose monitoring. Having the Dexcom app on my wrist is what matters.
Should I Get An Apple Watch With Lte
Gillian wondered if having an Apple Watch with LTE would mean she could get glucose readings from the pump on her body even when her iPhone is dead or out of reach.
Unfortunately, thats not the case, as the Dexcom needs to be linked via Bluetooth to her smartphone. But, for those with diabetes or other health conditions, having an Apple Watch with LTE has other benefits. In situations where her phone dies, or worse, is stolen, shes still connected for getting help.
For what its worth, LTE support on the Apple Watch SE only costs $50 more than the standard $279 entry price. Meanwhile, it costs at least $499 for an Apple Watch Series 6 with Cellular, on top of the monthly service fee.
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How To Use An Apple Watch To Monitor Your Diabetes
You could also use a manual testing system such as One Drop . Whichever method you prefer, having a device like an Apple Watch, which can display your glucose readings, could be vital.
If youre trending up or down, or heading towards a change in blood sugar, you can get your rescue before you feel the symptoms, Emmi Petti, a nurse at Duke University Hospital and one of Gillians trusted resources for diabetes information, said. This is especially helpful in situations when you dont have immediate access to your phone like when youre working and driving.
Dexcom, Gillians glucose-monitoring system of choice, offers a dedicated Apple Watch app that pushes notifications from a users wireless insulin pump to their wrist via their smartphone. The Dexcom app also shows a users current glucose levels and general glucose trends at a glance. It even supports custom watch face complications for the utmost convenience.
With type 1 diabetes, you might need to know exactly what your glucose is doing at any given point, Dexcom CTO Jake Leach, who oversees the development of next generation glucose monitoring products, said. The value that continuous glucose monitoring brings is your current glucose level and how its changing so you can make adjustments accordingly.
Apple Watch Series 8 Suppliers Developing Blood Glucose Monitoring Components
Apple’s suppliers are currently developing components for next-generation sensors in the Apple Watch Series 8 that will allow users to measure their blood glucose level, according to a new report.
According to a paywalled report from DigiTimes, Apple and its suppliers have begun working on short-wavelength infrared sensors, a commonly used sensor type for health devices. The new sensors, likely to be fitted on the back of the Apple Watch, will enable the device to measure the amount of sugar in a wearer’s blood.
The Apple Watch, over the years, has gained more comprehensive health features, most recently with the Apple Watch Series 6 that added a blood oxygen sensor. Compared to the first Apple Watch capable of measuring heart rate and primary daily activity, the Apple Watch is now capable of taking an ECG, detecting falls, high and low heart rates, blood oxygen levels, and more.
Continuing to build the Apple Watch as an all-encompassing health tool, Apple has already been rumored to be eying blood glucose measuring functionality for the next-generation Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 8. According to The Wall Street Journal, blood glucose level is one of multiple health metrics Apple is looking to add to the Apple Watch.
In iOS 15, the Health app added blood glucose highlights as a health metric. iOS 15 users have to use external hardware to provide the data, but that would change if Apple adds a glucose monitoring feature to a future Apple Watch model.
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About Rockleys Spectroscopy Technology
Rockley specializes in non-invasive optical sensors for detecting blood pressure, body temperature, blood glucose and alcohol levels and more. Similar to the optical heart rate sensor built into the Apple Watchs back crystal, Rockleys sensor uses infrared light to detect the aforementioned metrics through your skin.
From the press release:
While many of todays wearable consumer electronic devices use green light-emitting diodes to monitor heart rate, Rockleys infrared spectrophotometers can detect and monitor a much wider range of biomarkers, which could dramatically increase the functionality of wearable devices.
Based on Rockley spectroscopy technology, the sensor module takes advantage of a large number of discrete laser outputs from a single silicon chip to cover a broad optical band, allowing it to monitor several important blood-related metrics continually.
The sensor non-invasively probes beneath the skin to analyze blood, interstitial fluids and various layers of the dermis for constituents and physical phenomena of interest. Such biomarkers have historically been measurable only by using bench-top equipment.
The Telegraph reported in May 2021 that Rockley will go public on the NYSE later this year under the symbol RKLY, with Apple accounting for a vast majority of its revenue in 2020 and 2019. According to a June 2021 report from Bloomberg, a non-invasive blood glucose sensor is several years away from being shipped in an Apple Watch.
Apple Supplier Reveals Non
Apple has been gradually beefing up the Apple Watch with new sensors that boast enhanced health-related features. An Apple supplier Rockley Photonics has developed new sensors for smartwatches that could potentially make their way to the Apple Watch. These new digital sensors include a non-invasive blood glucose monitor, core body temperature, and more. As mentioned earlier, these sensors could come to future Apple Watch models.
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How Will Apple Watch Glucose Monitoring Work
Traditionally, measuring glucose levels has meant testing a drop of blood. Not only does this require special equipment, but it also means that the tester gets only a snapshot of their glucose levels at that particular point in time. Apple, however, is said to be developing an optical sensor for monitoring glucose levels.
The benefits of having such a sensor integrated into an Apple Watch include it being a less invasive process than testing blood and that levels can be monitored continuously. This would also mean that users could be given alerts when levels fluctuate beyond certain points. The technology is said to have already been developed and patents secured, with Apple now “focusing on securing reliability and stability prior to commercialization of the technology.”
Whats Covered By Insurance
Gillian is no stranger to recurring payments, but that doesnt necessarily mean she wants more of them. Luckily, her insurance covers over $6,000 per year in costs of her Dexcom glucose sensors and transmitters, so we looked into whether BlueShield BlueCross would finance an Apple Watch, too. It wont instead, it has a program for financing a Fitbit as it relates to upping daily activity. Unfortunately, Dexcom does not make an app for Fitbits.
Some providers like Aetna and United do have options for Apple Watch coverage, so I would advise other diabetics in these insurance systems to seek out payment options. You should check if your glucose monitoring system has a compatible smartwatch app, too. The One Drop glucose monitoring kit is a good Dexcom alternative you could use to see your blood glucose data and analytics on your wrist.
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New Apple Watch Sensors
The Apple Watch already uses colored light-emitting diodes and optical sensors for health monitoring. Its heart rate, electrocardiogram, and blood oxygen sensing solutions are all based on this technology. Since it is actually a tiny computer, and has access to the additional processing power of the iPhone when needed, it has become a very capable and accurate way to keep track of various health metrics. Given that the patent application reference to substances was very vague, it opens the door to various other tests. Blood contains a plethora of molecules, many that offer health insights, but are unknown until a blood test is analyzed. If Apple can successfully identify various molecules in the blood via the Apple Watch, this could truly be a health game-changer.
Noninvasive glucose monitoring has great value and has been pursued for several decades, but the size and cost of the technology and the time required for accurate analysis prevented this from becoming a usable solution. That may be changing soon thanks to the more powerful processors and advanced sensors found in modern smartwatches. Whether the Apple Watch Series 7 will have blood glucose testing or not is unknown, but it is certain that Apple will continue to move further into health monitoring and analysis.
The Apple Watch In Itself Is A Comprehensive Health Monitoring Device While It Can Monitor Owner’s Heart Rate And Blood Oxygen Level It Has Other Features Too
Apple has just launched Apple Watch 7 and details about Apple’s next smartwatch model have already started appearing on the internet. Most recently, Apple and its suppliers are reported to be working on developing short-wavelength infrared sensors. While there are a lot of sensors on the Apple Watches, the short-wavelength sensor, in particular, is used to measure blood sugar levels. The report indicates that Apple’s upcoming smartwatch, which might be launched in 2022, will have the capability to measure users’ blood sugar levels.
The Apple Watch in itself is a comprehensive health monitoring device. In the past, there have been reports about the Apple Watch notifying its owner about improper heartbeats and a plausible health issue that might be causing it. Then there have been cases when Apple Watches’ fall detection feature has notified about owner’s accident to emergency contact just in the knick of time. It is able to do so with the help of advanced sensors.
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Rockley Clinic On The Wrist As A Potential Game Changer
Rockley Photonics has recently revealed its new chip based on infrared spectrophotometers technology. According to the company, the sensor detects a much wider range of biomarkers, including core temperature, alcohol, and glucose.
The sensor relies on technology previously found only in bench-top equipment. Many of the modern wearable consumer electronics that monitor your heart rate use green LEDs. Rockleys IR sensors use non-invasive technology to measure the fluid underneath the skin, allowing for analyzing body constituents and physical phenomena.
When considering that Rockley is one of Apples main sensors suppliers, it is easy to speculate that this new technology will at one point be part of the Apple Watch.
Apple Working On Built
Currently, CGM relies on a separate device, but one of the most persistent of Apple Watch reports is that Apple is working on a way to integrate this functionality into the watch itself.
Specifically, the company is said to be working on a way to do this non-invasively that is, without the need to puncture the skin. This has been described as the holy grail for diabetics.
Apple is reported to have been working on this since 2012. From a 2017 report:
Such an initiative was first imagined by Steve Jobs and Apple has been working on it for five years. Jobs imagined the solution being integrated into a wearable device, such as the Apple Watch
The report, citing three people familiar with the matter, explains that Apple has hired a small team of biomedical engineers to work on the initiative. The team is said to be based out of an unmarked, nondescript office in Palo Alto, California.
The initiative sees Apple working on developing sensors that can constantly monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes. While specific timeline information is unclear, the company is reportedly far enough along in it testing that it has been conducting feasibility trials.
If youre wondering why we still havent seen this come to market a decade later, thats because this stuff is hard really hard.
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Apple Watch Able To Work As Blood Glucose Monitor
18 May 2015
The much anticipated Apple Watch, which has been available in stores in the UK since the end of April, will be able to work as a blood glucose monitor, according to press releases.
DexCom, a company that manufactures and distributes continuous glucose monitoring systems for diabetes management, have developed a smart app that will work on the Watch. A miniature sensor placed under the wearers skin will measure glucose levels every five minutes and the results will be displayed on the Watch in the form of a graph.