CNBC’s Christina Farr has reported that Apple has been quietly developing a non-invasive, sensor-based glucose monitor. The technology has apparently advanced to the trial stage.
Diabetes has become a global epidemic. Continuous monitoring, automatic insulin delivery, and the “artificial pancreas” are significant steps forward, meant to control the disease, and avoid its debilitating side effects. While some systems consist of micro-needles just below the skin, to date, none are totally non-invasive.
The ideal solution would be the use of the Apple Watch and other fitness/lifestyle trackers to control behavior to the point that the disease is avoided entirely. However, if diagnosed, a non-invasive glucose sensor would transform the daily life of diabetics.
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A pilot study exploring the use of wearables in breast cancer is underway. Polaris Health Directions and the MD Anderson Cancer Center are using the Apple Watch to track multiple factors, increase engagement, and provide immediate feedback and interventions.
Side effects, sleep, activity levels and mood will be monitored, and combined with electronic health records and population data.
According to Polaris, “the patient will learn through self-discovery how to modify behavior, and if she finds herself in a high stress situation, our on-demand support mechanisms can provide instant assistance.”
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As a company devoted to improving the human condition through health innovation, ApplySci was delighted to hear yesterday’s ResearchKit announcement. The framework allows people to easily join health studies, and simplifies the process by bringing research to one’s phone.
ResearchKit’s first tests detect Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and breast cancer. Apple worked with 12 institutions to create the app, including some which will participate in ApplySci’s Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 conference.
Apple’s (admirable) goal is to more easily recruit research subjects, and improve accuracy by increasing sample size and diversity. Data is captured and recorded using iPhone sensors. Examples include:
- An iPhone’s microphone can detect tiny voice fluctuations that may indicate Parkinson’s disease.
- An iPhone’s screen can detect tapping inconsistencies associated with disease.
- An iPhone accelerometer can compare one’s gait and balance against a healthy person’s speed and posture.
Users control their own data, and decide if, how, and when to share it. Apple will not have access to it. The company hopes that external developers will soon dramatically increase the number of tests available.
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The forthcoming Apple Watch will include the DexCom glucose tracking app. To use it, a tiny sensor must be placed under the skin to measure glucose levels every five minutes. Results will be displayed on the watch with a simple graph.
While DexCom has FDA approval, due to recent a recent FDA clarification on wearable devices, other health apps can be included, and this will remain a “Low Risk” device, not requiring prior marketing approval. This is great news for both device makers and consumers, as it will inspire a proliferation of health apps. ApplySci hopes that the competition will ensure that the most accurate health trackers become the most popular, and will continue to curate this movement with that goal.
Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences.
Apple‘s U.S. Patent No. 8,787,006 for a “Wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefor” describes a wearable touchscreen device that can be docked into a wrist strap, turning it into a smartwatch. One illustration names it “iTime”.
The device connects to an iPhone, iPad or computer to access information and receive alerts. Its strap could contain haptic mechanisms, various sensors, biometric components, GPS modules, NFC antennas, Bluetooth packages, and/or proximity detectors. Arm movement gestures could be used to control the watch, eliminating the need to touch the screen.
Apple Insider reports: “A batch of Apple patent filings published on Thursday describe a system of interconnected sensors — some being wearable devices — that work with an iPhone hub to monitor activity levels, dynamically set or cancel alarms and manage push notification settings, among other automated tasks.”
The patents include: Method and Apparatus For Personal Characterization Data Collection Using Sensors, Method and Apparatus for Automatically Setting Alarms and Notifications, and an update to a 2010 application describing a heart rate monitor embedded in a future iOS device. All enable the iPhone to collect data from sensors in wristbands and other wearables to track activity levels and adjust settings based on a user’s behavior.
Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,749,380 is a “shoe wear-out sensor, body-bar sensing system, unitless activity assessment and associated methods.”
The patent describes a system where a sensor-laden device attaches to a weightlifting bar and counts and displays repetitions. A watch for remote readings is included. It is widely thought to be a part of an iWatch weightlifting tracker.
The device incorporates sensors, accelerometers, and processors with its display. Data can be sent wirelessly to a watch. Sensor hardware clips to fitness equipment, including bars, dumbbells and machines, and monitors movement and number of repetitions.
As they prepare to enter the Wearable Technology market, Apple is hiring hardware and software engineers and medical sensor and fitness experts to build a “fitness-oriented, sensor-laden wearable computer.”
**Above photo based on rumors only