Apple has allegedly tasked a secret team of hardware developers and biomedical engineers with developing a sensor array for the Apple Watch, which would enable the wearable to double as a blood glucose monitoring apparatus for individuals with diabetes, according to a report published by CNBC.
As part of an initiative that was envisioned by Steven Jobs, prior to his passing in October 2011, this “super-secret” team of experts is reportedly working at an unidentifiable office in Palo Alto, California, where they are collaboratively geared to “develop sensors that can non-invasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes,” according to sources familiar with the matter.
The team’s progress on the project has apparently reached the advanced stages of development, according to CNBC, and therefore Apple has begun conducting the first round of “feasibility trials” at various testing sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. Moreover, sources said, the company has hired several consultants to help it navigate the various regulatory pathways required of a commercialized medical diagnostic tool.
It is believed that the Cupertino-company has been working on this project as far back as 2010, when then-CEO, Steve Jobs, reportedly received an email from Cor CEO, Bob Messerschmidt, who’s company had been working to advance various sensor technologies for medical diagnostic tools. It is reported that Messerschmidt later joined the Apple Watch team, more than likely to help further Steve Jobs vision of creating wearable devices, like the Apple Watch, that would one day be capable of monitoring important vitals such as oxygen levels, heart rate, and blood glucose.
While as many as 30 experts were believed to have joined Apple’s team to assist in this project, speculation has been flying for the past year or so, in particular, as Cupertino has allegedly snapped up at least a dozen biomedical experts who previously worked for firms including Vital Connect, Masimo, Sano, Medtronic, and C8 Medisensors.
If Apple is ultimately able to develop a commercialized glucose monitor, either embodying a future generation of the Apple Watch, or an add-on accessory of some sort, the technology would inevitably embody the “holy grail” of them all. That’s because, as of yet, companies working in the field of life sciences and medical diagnostics haven’t been able to create a viable “through-the-skin” apparatus capable of accurately measuring blood glucose.
While the current standard for individuals afflicted by diabetes is to “prick” their finger, in order to draw blood for analysis, Apple is believed to be developing an apparatus consisting of various optical sensors that would be able to “shine a light” directly through the skin in order to measure glucose levels, according to a source familiar with that matter.
Such a breakthrough, as some experts point out, could ultimately turn the Apple Watch into a “must have” device for millions of people suffering with diabetes, as it would provide a truly non-invasive way of monitoring blood glucose, unlike traditional methods. However, cautioned DexCom Executive Chairman, Terrance Gregg, during an interview with Reuters: “To succeed would cost a company several hundred millions or even a billion dollars.” We certainly don’t see that being an issue for Apple, though.