Skip to main content

Sensor breakthrough brings us closer to blood glucose monitoring on wearables

Blood glucose monitoring is touted to be the next big breakthrough for wearable devices like the Apple Watch. However, the hardware is yet to be seen on a commercially available, mass-market device. That might change soon.

A team from Georgia’s Kennesaw State University claims to have developed a noninvasive system of blood glucose level measurement, thanks to a device called GlucoCheck. It follows the same fundamental approach as the oxygen-level analysis sensor on smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 8 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.

Maria Valero with Glucocheck
Professor Maria Valero leads the team behind GlucoCheck. Kennesaw State University

Team lead Maria Valero, an assistant professor at the institution’s College of Computing and Software Engineering (CCSE), notes that the device delivers 90% accuracy in analyzing glucose concentration in blood samples. The biosensor works in tandem with a phone application, but the team is already at work on integrating Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.

GlucoCheck shines light across the human skin, and then a camera captures the view from the other side. The goal is to study the varying level of light absorption by blood flowing in the vessels to determine the glucose concentration.

The Apple Watch Ultra's heart rate sensor active.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The team has already filed a patent for the tech and now aims to test it on more body types to diversify the test data. This step is of critical importance, because commercially available wearables like those made by Fitbit and even Apple are known to be inaccurate at reading data from people with dark or tattoed skin types.

The latest development is remarkable because it achieves the holy grail of glucose-level monitoring, which is to develop a noninvasive method that can be miniaturized and connected to devices such as phones. Currently, people with diabetes need to prick their fingers to obtain a blood sample to analyze their sugar levels.

Commercial players are also at it

This is not the first research of its kind. In July 2020, Samsung showcased a noninvasive method for blood glucose monitoring in partnership with experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The same year, Movano revealed a wearable device that can measure blood sugar levels using a light diffusion method. But it didn’t do much else.

A year later, a Japanese company named Quantum Operation showcased a wearable-mounted sensor at CES 2021 that was capable of noninvasive blood glucose analysis. According to multiple reports that have surfaced over the past couple of years, both Apple and Samsung are interested in the promising tech for their smartwatches.

Quantum Operation Non-Invasive Blood Glucometer

U.K.-based Rockley Photonics is also working toward the same objective, but instead of LEDs, the company is focused more on laser-based analysis. Regarding the in-house tech, CEO Dr. Andrew Rickman told Digital Trends that it “collects incredibly rich data that we extract to measure, amongst other things, hydration, lactate, and blood pressure.”

Notably, Apple is said to be one of the biggest clients of Rockley Photonics and is rumored to include the noninvasive blood glucose monitoring tech on the Apple Watch portfolio in the near future.

Editors' Recommendations

Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
The best stock-trading apps for iPhone and Android in 2023
The App Store on an iPhone, showing searching results for "stock trading apps."

Are you tired of traditional savings accounts not yielding the results you need? One alternative is to look to investing as the key to growing your wealth! But managing investments can be time-consuming, especially when you're always on the go. That's where stock-trading apps come in. With features like real-time market data and mock practice accounts, investment apps make investing accessible to investors at every level.

To help you make the most of your investments, we've compiled a list of the best stock-trading apps available for both iPhone and Android phones. Don't forget that investing always carries risk, so only invest money you can afford to lose. But if you have money you're comfortable investing, these are the 10 best investing apps you should use.

Read more
I compared two of the year’s best phones in an extreme camera test
The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's rear panels.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple versus Samsung is perhaps the ultimate battle in smartphones, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Galaxy S23 Ultra are the two brand’s top devices. If you want one, you may have also looked at the other, and even if not, who doesn’t want to see a tough camera battle between these two heavyweights?

Read more
reMarkable 2 digital notebook just got a rare discount
A person using the reMarkable 2 to take notes.

The reMarkable 2, a tablet that mimics the feel of writing and reading on paper, is available from Best Buy right now with a rare $50 discount on a bundle that includes the Marker Plus writing instrument and the Book Folio case. Instead of $550, you'll only have to pay $500, which is still fairly expensive but it's very much worth it. We're not sure how much time is remaining on the offer though, so if you think this will be a better purchase than other tablet deals, you should push through with the transaction as soon as possible.

Why you should buy the reMarkable 2 paper tablet
The reMarkable 2, the successor to 2017's reMarkable, improves upon the premise of the original version of the tablet -- it's like a pen and paper with smart capabilities. There's no backlight or glare on the display of this device for an eye-friendly reading experience, much like reading from real paper, and there are no distractions so you can focus on your work. In comparison, using a stylus on a tablet feels unnatural because of the friction-less glass, while the bright screen will strain your eyes and the notifications from your apps will keep distracting you.

Read more