From Hints to a Peek at an Apple Watch CGM
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, told students at the University of Glasgow in February that he had been wearing a glucose tracker, and that it helped him understand the impact of different foods on his blood sugar levels. Fast-forward to April. News surfaced that Apple was developing a solution, integrated with its Apple Watch, to diagnose and manage diabetes, with a non-invasive sensor that continuously measures blood glucose levels. One month later – May. Tim Cook was spotted wearing a prototype glucose tracker that pairs with the Apple Watch around Apple’s campus.
For over five years, Apple has had a team of biomechanical engineers working on developing a continuous blood glucose sensor to pair with their Apple Watch that does not break the skin. Their Palo Alto-based research team has already begun feasibility tests with the tracker they have engineered to date. Apple calls their challenging intention of creating this technology the “holy grail” in diabetes.
"It's mentally anguishing to stick yourself many times a day to check your blood sugar," Tim Cook said, according to CNBC. "There is lots of hope out there that if someone has constant knowledge of what they're eating, they can instantly know what causes the response... and that they can adjust well before they become diabetic."
Speculation about the Tracker’s Functionality & Watch Integration
Based on the description from CNBC, it sounds like the tracker Cook is wearing is a separate, independent unit that communicates to the Apple Watch over Bluetooth, as opposed to a feature integrated inside the Watch itself. Some are hypothesizing that Apple will sell the glucose tracker as an additional accessory. This could be especially helpful since the blood monitoring feature requires approval and regulation of the FDA. If Apple sells the tracker as a separate accessory, they will be able to avoid adding regulatory procedures to the production of the entire Apple Watch.
One report indicated that Apple would manufacture smart bands that expand the Watch with additional functions, meaning the glucose monitor could become a part of one of those separate smart bands, which would communicate with the core Apple hardware.
The Apple Watch & Health Monitoring
If Apple can successfully create this next-generation glucose monitor, it will transform the Apple Watch from a wearable accessory to a revolutionary health device, beyond heart rate and activity tracking. Tim Cook recently told a group: "This is an area where I'm very excited about Apple's contribution. Very excited."
Upcoming Dexcom Integration
Dexcom is an existing, trusted leader in continuous glucose monitoring technology. Apple announced at their recent WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) that they were releasing a Bluetooth API for their Apple Watch that would allow it to pair directly with health sensors such at Dexom CGM.