Diabetes almost knocked Charlie Kimball out of IndyCar. Wearable tech kept him in

Charlie Kimball
Charlie Kimball
IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 22 years old. Not long ago, with no way to reliably measure and regulate his blood sugar on the track, this may have knocked him out of competition altogether. Wearable tech kept him in.

The setup is fairly simple: a commercially-available continuous glucose monitor that Kimball wears on his skin. The information is sent to his car’s data electronics system, which is when things start getting really cool.

“The electronics system is tied into everything the car does, from the engine diagnostics, to tire pressures, brake temperatures, engine fuel levels, everything,” Kimball explains. “So on my steering wheel, on my electronic dash, I have everything from lap time, to speed, oil pressure, blood sugar, water temperate, gear — the car and body data are right there together.”

Like most drivers, Kimball has a drink system mounted in his vehicle’s cockpit. His consists of two, 1.5-liter containers filled with water and orange juice, which he can access through a special, 3D-printed valve at any time. When the sensor (or the pit crew, who monitors his levels wirelessly) alerts him, he can refuel himself without missing a beat.

Racing drivers and performance junkies often wax about being connected to their cars, but it doesn’t get more connected than this. The system, which Kimball polished alongside his father and engineering team, means his body and car function as a harmonious unit.

“Not only can I keep track of what my blood glucose is doing during a race, the engineers on the timing stand can keep an eye on it as well,” he said. “In essence, they can make sure the car is running right and my body is running right all at the same time.”

Kimball, who was accepted to Stanford’s mechanical engineering program before he pursued professional racing, says that he always had an affinity for math and science in his back pocket if a position behind the wheel didn’t pan out. After taking a few laps, though, he realized that racing was something to fight for.

“When I was diagnosed, I had fallen in love with driving so much that I wasn’t about to let something like my diagnosis get in the way,” he said. “I really was motivated to figure out a way to make it work for me.”

And that he did.

The 2015 IndyCar season just kicked off on March 29 with an event in St. Petersburg. Kimball’s next race comes April 12th at the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana.

Movies & TV

How big screens and small explosions shaped the VFX of Solo: A Star Wars Story

The early years of the Star Wars saga's famous smuggler Han Solo were brought to the big screen in Solo: A Star Wars Story, with a lot of help from an Industrial Light and Magic visual effects team led by Rob Bredow. Here's how they did it.
Emerging Tech

Engineer turns his old Apple lle into an wheeled robot, and even gives it a sword

How do you give new life to a 30-year-old computer? Software engineer Mike Kohn found a way by transforming his old Apple IIe into a wheeled robot. Check it out in all its 1980s glory.

All signs point to a new Apple external display in 2019. Will it be 6K or 8K?

Will there be an Apple Display 2019? It looks like Apple is getting ready to announce a new monitor, after canceling its old Thunderbolt Display back in 2016. But what will this new display look like? Here's what we know.
Movies & TV

How Avengers: Infinity War’s Oscar-nominated VFX team made Thanos a movie star

The purple-skinned Thanos proved to be a breakout character in Avengers: Infinity War, thanks to the work of actor Josh Brolin and visual effects studios Digital Domain and Weta. Here's how they brought him to life and earned the film an…

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.