Home-brew hackers build smart insulin pumps ahead of commercial releases

home brew insulin pumps not fda approved openaps01
Jason Calabrese/Twitter
Automatically managing blood sugar and insulin levels is considered the holy grail for diabetes treatment around the world. But while the idea of an artificial pancreas has been around for some time, making it a reality has proved far from easy. Although the technology might exist, regulatory hurdles and consumer product guidelines mean it’s taking a while to get a product to market. That’s why some families have jumped the gun and begun building these devices themselves.

The reason that there is a lot of regulation with such devices is obvious: one misreading, resulting in one over- or under-application of insulin, could put a patient’s life in danger. But for many people, especially parents, any solution to improve the lives of their loved ones is worth the risk.

Take the case of software engineer Jason Calabrese, who has developed a smart insulin applicator for his nine-year-old son. He used an old insulin pump and augmented it with smart sensors and smartphone tracking, so that when required, his son’s blood sugar is automatically regulated by the device, all powered by Intel’s Edison micro-computer.

Related: Graphene wristband can monitor blood glucose, deliver drug treatment

The system he used was based on plans he found online, for OpenAPS. Pioneered by 27-year-old Dana Lewis, the system works by using a small, sub-cutaneous sensor to track blood sugar levels, attached to a radio-controlled insulin pump. As the system detects a drop in blood sugar, it can provide an instant response of insulin.

The battery to power it all varies in size and shape depending on the individual hacker, but in the case of Mr Calabrese, it’s about the size of a headphone case (as per WSJ) that resides inside the base of his son’s backpack. The insulin sensor and pump sit on his belt.

Government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have refused to comment on the story, presumably since it does not want to recommend or condone the development of these devices — in case something goes wrong. Most involved in developing these devices recommend them only to those with some experience, though there are many who have taken up programming as a hobby in an effort to aid their children or other loved ones.


An inside look at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx, a revolutionary laptop processor

Six years after Microsoft’s failed foray into ARM computing with Windows RT, its second effort with Always-Connected PC is now showing early signs of success. Microsoft partner Qualcomm told us how the Snapdragon 8cx might revolutionize…
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

This implant goes beyond pacemakers, helps aging hearts beat more vigorously

The FDA's advisory committee has voted to recommend an innovative pacemaker-style gadget be approved in the U.S. The Optimizer Smart Implantable Pulse Generator boosts performance, strength, and pumping ability of weakened heart chambers.

Snatch Apple’s 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro for up to $1,200 off at B&H

The latest deal at B&H is offering up 2017 15-inch Apple MacBook Pros, in space gray and silver, with Intel Core i7 quad-core CPUs, 16GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon Pro 560 GPUs with up to 2TB of SSD storage.

I tried an LTE laptop for a month, and I wasn’t really convinced

LTE laptops offer up plenty of benefits and are becoming more common. After spending one month with one in my daily life in New York City, I really wondered if it is something that consumers really need in their lives.

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.

Qualcomm’s dual-screen PC concept looks like two connected Surface Go tablets

In Qualcomm's video teaser, we got a glimpse of the company's vision for how a dual-screen ARM PC should work. The internet reacted to Qualcomm's video, calling the device in question merely a mashup of two Surface Go tablets.

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.

Hololens 2 could give the Always Connected PC a new, ‘aggressive’ form

Microsoft is said to be leaning on Qualcomm to power its Hololens 2 headset. Instead of Intel CPUs, the next Hololens could use a Snapdragon 850 processor, allowing it to benefit from the always-connected features.

Chrome’s dark mode may cast its shadow over Macs by early 2019

By early 2019 Google may release a version of Chrome for Mac users that offers a Dark Mode feature to match MacOS Mojave's recent darkening.

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.