Apple patent application details non-invasive glucose monitoring tech for Apple Watch

“A patent application published Thursday potentially offers clues into Apple’s rumored non-invasive glucose monitoring solution, diabetes tracking technology considered to be a ‘holy grail’ of medical science,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider. “”

“Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple’s patent application for ‘Reference switch architectures for noncontact sensing of substances’ details methods by which an electronic device can be calibrated to measure the concentration of a particular substance in a given sample,” Campbell reports. “More specifically, an optical system is configured to perform absorption spectroscopy.”

“Among a host of refinements, the application details an apparatus that incorporates specialized light emitters, filters, beamsplitters, short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) detectors and other components to compensate for potential inaccuracies caused by unknown factors… Apple also mentions techniques of constantly calibrating the system to maintain a high degree of accuracy,” Campbell reports. “The application jibes with rumors that Apple is working on a non-invasive glucose monitoring solution for use in Apple Watch.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in January:

If* Apple can achieve non-invasive continuous glucose monitoring, Apple Watch would become an even more 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 appears to be working on blood glucose monitoring as a way to address Type 2 Diabetes – May 22, 2017
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/blockquote>


    1. The odds are not in favor of Apple figuring out this solution before every other company so don’t bet the farm on it. Apple shareholders would never be that lucky. There must be hundreds of companies working on non-invasive glucose monitoring. Apple could easily afford to make it happen but that’s their only advantage. Apple can throw billions of dollars at solving any problem but even that doesn’t guarantee success.

      1. There are some out there already but the trick is to make it un-cumbersome and reliable. Apple has the bucks to do it first but then they also had the bucks to make sure their Mac Mini line and Mac Pro didn’t languish but that didn’t seem to help there did it?

      2. There are multiple aspects to “figuring out this solution,” Laughing_Boy48, and Apple has a huge lead on most companies in the critical ecosystem, device, and software areas. In addition, Apple has a tremendous track record on refining and miniaturizing advanced technologies and, then, incorporating them into popular shipping products.

        If a consumer has a choice between a glucose monitor and an Apple Watch that provides that function and many more while also being tied into the iOS ecosystem along with HealthKit and ResearchKit, etc., then the Apple Watch will win most of the time. Given my experience with specialized medical equipment, I suspect that the Apple Watch will be cheaper, too.

        You should also consider that Apple does not have to do all of this in-house. Apple works with other companies to advance their technologies to support Apple’s objectives. If someone else comes up with the “solution,” then you can bet that Apple will be talking to them about purchasing or licensing the rights to that technology. And that is where $100+B comes in very handy.

  1. Most Type II diabetics at least check their fasting blood sugar daily. If that meter could somehow provide a calibration to Apple Watch in the morning, at least an approximate real-time glucose value could be tracked. A point or two isn’t the issue; trends and spikes are.

  2. Is this even possible? I’m sure plenty of health device companies must have been working on this problem for years? How likely is it that Apple beat them to a solution? It just seems this is such a huge health breakthrough and for it to actually fit into something the size of a watch is just so difficult to believe. However, I sure hope for it to be true. Anyway, as soon as Apple figures how to get such glucose monitoring into a watch, Samsung won’t be far behind, if they haven’t already figured it out.

    1. “Samsung won’t be far behind, if they haven’t already figured it out.”

      What do you mean by “If they haven’t already figured it out”. Samsung does not do research and development as most other companies do. Their stated philosophy has been: “Look at the market and see what is selling, then go make (copy) it.” “Figured it out?” – nope, they are just waiting to copy.

  3. Glucose sensing is a very saturated market. Medtronic, Abbot, and Dexcom currently sell continuous blood glucose sensors that provide almost real time values every 5 minutes. If Apple can come up with something, great.

    But even if apple had this ready to roll today, it would be 5-10 years away before they could conduct lab trials, patient trials, and get FDA clearance.

    Currently Dexcom provides the most accurate sensors out there to 7% MARD of lab value blood glucose draws.

    I suspect that Apple isn’t wanting to mess with the FDA and clinical trials and would maybe provide a low/in-range/high reference rather than try and provide an actual usable Mg/Dl value.

      1. im aware of that old joey, I wear one every day for Type 1 diabetes. my point is, that even a simple software update for these devices requires clinical trials and FDA approval. I don’t think that is something Apple would want to deal with every time a WatchOS update comes out.

  4. Current market approaches are generally like the razor industry’s approach – the razor is cheap and money is made on the blades. With diabetics the money is normally made on the test strips. Modern technology simply increases the profit potential because the sensor devices have to be frequently replaced. The approach that Apple seems to be taking eliminates the ingoing costs. Buy the watch and the software (which would probably be in iOS) and got on with your life.

    Trailing back to the story that Tim Cook had used a continuous device for “a few weeks” there was one important key – the technology might well be inserted in a band that diabetics would purchase for sue in their watch. If the next Apple Watch has contact points for bands then the FDA is greatly simplified.

    As a diabetic I’ll be in line to buy one pretty fast, and a lot of other people will be joining me.

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