“HERE’S WHAT THE APPLE WATCH MAX ULTRA MIGHT OFFER.”
The Apple Watch has never been associated with revolutionary technology in the fitness tracking space, but things may soon change.
Apple is developing a noninvasive glucose monitor – codenamed E5 – and has reportedly entered the proof-of-concept phase.
An estimated 1 in 10 people have diabetes, and most rely on painful finger pricks to monitor their blood glucose levels.
But let’s just admit it, if Apple’s going to bring out a blood glucose monitor, you’re probably going to get one. And as the Apple Watch has transitioned from a smartwatch to a do-it-all fitness tracker, this new development could help the device tap into a multi-billion-dollar market.
Apple is known to keep a heavy veil over its future products, although things are bound to leak out, as with the self-driving car. The glucose tracking project has received similar treatment.
The Bloomberg report reveals that the project has actually been in development for more than 12 years, originally fueled by Steve Jobs’ ambitions, suffering from his own health issues.
Apple engineers are using silicon photonics chips and a measurement process called optical absorption spectroscopy for the monitor, and are reportedly working on a prototype the size of an iPhone to be strapped to a person’s bicep.
The system uses lasers to emit specific wavelengths of light into an area below the skin where there is interstitial fluid — substances that leak out of capillaries — that can be absorbed by glucose. The light is then reflected back to the sensor in a way that indicates the concentration of glucose. An algorithm then determines a person’s blood glucose level. (via Bloomberg)
The company has already tested this technology on hundreds of people over the past decade – on people with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, or those who don’t know if they have the condition.
Apple is clearly ambitious with the project, and is even planning to tie in the functionality to warn users of prediabetes, something even more prevalent than type 2 diabetes.
While the tech sounds fascinating, it’s unclear how far Apple has gotten in making the device fit for practical use, or even as accurate as the pricking method.
Mark Gurman notes that bringing the device to the market with be a challenge, seeing as how Google previously failed in their attempts to develop noninvasive glucose monitors.
While the company seems on track to build something truly functional, people remain skeptical of Apple’s intention to monopolize the tech. The company has been known to resist the norm to get people to stick with them, and getting a chunk of a billion-dollar industry will be no less charming.
Apple surely has pockets deep enough to fuel the project, as the Bloomberg report notes that the company has already put hundreds of millions of dollars into the project.
Even if Apple is not the first one to get there, success would mean a boost to the already commanding lead that Apple exercises in the smartwatch market share. All I hope is that the glucose tracking is not exclusive to some “Max Ultra.”