Apple appears to be working on blood glucose monitoring as a way to address Type 2 Diabetes

“Apple appears to be working on blood glucose monitoring as a way to address Type 2 Diabetes,” Jean-Louis Gassée writes for Monday Note. “‘Glucose monitoring’ is a code word for fighting the growing scourge of Type 2 Diabetes. Unlike Type 1 Diabetes, which is unpreventable, the Type 2 variety is, to be polite, a ‘lifestyle’ disease, meaning we eat too much and don’t exercise enough. (As usual, the French are more brutal: for them, Type 2 is Diabète gras, Fat Diabetes).

“A 2016 Harvard School of Public Health study places the global cost of Type 2 Diabetes at $825B per year and growing,” Gassée writes. “Devices that tell you your blood sugar concentration, once the province of the lab, have moved into the home. With just a minuscule drop of blood — as little as .3 microliter — you can get an answer in seconds. The subject is immediately alerted to an anomalous rise in blood sugar, a circumstance that could result in limb amputation, blindness, and kidney failure if left untreated. But drawing blood, even in minute quantities, is painful, and pain, or fear of it, limits acceptance.”

“This leads us back to the rumor[s and reports] that Apple is getting into the blood sugar monitoring business,” Gassée writes. “Put the pieces together and this is what we have: The Type 2 Diabetes epidemic has created a broad (pardon the heartless expression) ‘consumer base.’ Apple is serious about blood glucose monitoring. The glucose monitor would be a separate device, an accessory to the Watch. And it would be ‘bloodless.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, if* achieved, Apple Watch would become the essential device for hundreds of millions of people with diabetes.

According to the International Diabetes Federation:

International Diabetes Federation facts: Number of people with diabetes worldwide

*It’s a big “IF.” Non-invasive continuous glucose monitoring would indeed be the “holy grail for treating diabetes.”

Apple reportedly working on incorporating blood glucose sensor into Apple Watch – May 15, 2017
Apple secret team reportedly working holy grail for treating diabetes; initially envisioned by Steve Jobs – April 12, 2017
Apple patent details Apple Watch smart bands – January 24, 2017
Emails between Apple and FDA hint at future plans – December 1, 2016
Analyst: Apple smartbands are a part of the Apple Watch’s future – April 8, 2016
Apple patent application hints at Apple Watch ‘Smartbands’ utilizing hidden 6-pin data connector – February 20, 2016
Why Apple’s iWatch won’t measure glucose levels – February 26, 2014


  1. Most people’s palms have low melanin and no hair. I’d imagine a thick ring could be worn which would shine a light on the underside of the finger. This could send data to the phone or watch to be processed.

    Another option would be the ear canal, though with hair and wax that could get tricky.

    Whatever it is, if it’s a very small device I’d expect liquidmetal to be finally strutted out for the use. People don’t realize, but liquidmetal is expensive, and would only be of use in small quantities. The AppleCar won’t be made of liquidmetal. Neither the entire body of an iPhone. But a complex super-thin inner frame of an iPhone, yes. Perhaps some day the body of an AppleWatch. But definitely the body for something like a ring would be an ideal use-case for lqmt.

    In any case, I don’t imagine we’re anywhere close to getting the blood-sugar monitor use in an Apple product. Remember, they have to actually get it to work first, at any size or cost. Then they have to scale it down to be small enough to be typically worn. Then they have to get it to a price that people would pay. ($10,000 would be too much. $2000 to $3000 probably would get picked up by wealthy boomers with issues.)

    My guess: A liquidmetal ring in 2020, or an equipped AirPod in 2022.

  2. I realize that MDN is only repeating an article from elsewhere. But what makes Jean-Louis Gassée a medical expert, or even an expert in anything?

    I’ve never seen a scientific study proving a causation link between low exercise levels and type-2 diabetes. Correlation, yes; causation, no. I’ve been a long distance bicyclist most of my adult life (lots and lots of frequent 60-100 mile rides, and still ride regularly), and now have type-2 diabetes. So I would definitely be a customer of a bloodless glucose monitoring device to go with my Apple Watch and iPhone.

    But type-2 diabetes isn’t nearly as simple as the media tries to make it out to be.

    1. Whether he’s a medical expert or not, diet and exercise can all but eliminate type 2 diabetes. Though it takes time, it isn’t an instantaneous process, I have two family members that no longer require insulin injections after cleaning up their lifestyles. For most people it actually is that simple – type 2 is the direct result of poor health habits for the vast majority that suffer from it.

    2. What’s your body weight? What’s your diet? No offense but I’ve seen plenty of overweight cyclists who ride long distances. Cycling is not such great exercise if you don’t get your heart rate up.

      1. 5’10”, ~185 lbs; 3 chefs in the family so we eat fresh and healthy (personally I hate the mouth feel of beef fat, pork fat, or chicken fat, so no prime rib, etc). We live a couple of hours from the ocean, so we eat lots of fish and shrimp we catch ourselves. We have two 16 sq ft herb gardens, so we use fresh herbs in EVERYTHING. We pick lettuce by the 5 gallon bucket full out of our garden and greenhouse.

        I hit 90% max heart rate or higher on nearly every ride and spend lots of time at ~85%. So lack of exercise IS NOT a factor in my type-2 diabetes.

    3. New studies are finding that it is more related to the biome of your gut, than your activities.

      We now know that if after a broad spectrum antibiotic treatment you lose your intestinal digestive cultures biome (that processes your food so you can absorb it), and if you need a transplant from another person to rebuild yours…. and if the donor is obese or diabetic – you will likely become obese or diabetic. No change in diet or activity needed, just a biome change.

      If you are diabetic and get a gastric bypass procedure, you will typically be off of all diabetic medications hours after the surgery. If type-2 diabetes was, as some doctors have said, a “tired pancreas”, this would not happen.

      There is more to this than most people realize.

      In a related note, researchers have found that artificial sweetener aspartame (Nutrasweet) blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase IAP is produced in the small intestine. It can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome [a disease characterized by a combination of obesity, high blood pressure, a metabolic disorder and insulin resistence].
      In this case, the artificial sweetener can actually make you heavier than not using it, as it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP.”

      1. Hey BeosJim, Very helpful comment. I’m wondering, are there ways short of a “poo transplant” that a person can effectively repopulate their gut biome? I’d be especially curious about a product that you believe is useful in this regard.

        (I was extremely thin up until around age 26 when I went to Senegal and ended up taking a regimen of Cipro. Perhaps it was a basic metabolical shift that would have happened anyway, but I noticed that after this trip I began to put on more weight and have a harder time getting it off.)

    4. I agree – it’s complicated and political.

      I’ve suffered with psoriasis and type 2 for a long time. A couple years ago I got cellulitis in the leg. Had massive amounts of antibiotics giving to me and after that psoriasis was 100% gone and type 2 was gone. Did some researched and was surprised to find others reported the same thing.

      Now I am of the mindset that antibiotics aren’t used so much because they cure issues and this antibiotic resistance crap is just that. crap.

  3. It’s not the pain that make blood glucose testing annoying its the cost. This will help those with type one diabetes as well as those with type two in that it will lower the cost of each “stick”. If you can tie the watch glucose sensor to the pump then Apple will be saving me money while making my type 1 existence easier and cheaper to deal with. Please hurry up Apple!

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