Medical technology firms have been working for decades to find a way that allows diabetics to check their blood sugar levels easily, but they have seen scant success. Now, the task has been taken up by the largest mobile technology firms that exist today. Google Inc., Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics are attempting to develop applications that are capable of transforming nascent wearable technology like bracelets and smartwatches from curiosities into necessities. According to people familiar with the matter, these firms have set their sights on figuring out a way to monitor blood sugar.
Medical engineers and scientists are being constantly hired by all three companies and they are also consulting US regulators regarding oversights relating to development of glucose-measuring features that would be incorporated in future wearable technology. According to research firms, there will be limited technology in the first round, but eventually, the firms will be able to compete in a global market of blood-sugar tracking that will have a value of $12 billion by the year 2017. 29 million Americans are afflicted by diabetes and it gives rise to huge costs for the economy, which are rising on an annual basis as the disease becomes widespread.
There are numerous diabetics that have to prick their fingers about 10 times a day for the single purpose of checking the glucose levels in the blood. There are many forms in which non-invasive technology can be introduced. Glucose could be drawn through the skin for measurement with the help of ultrasound and electricity. Light could also be shed on the skin where the measure of glucose is taken by a spectroscope. Experts said that all the big technology firms wish to include this feature on their phone because it has the potential of becoming a huge economic payoff.
No comment was made by Google, Apple or Samsung regarding this matter. However, a member of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that a marriage between glucose testing and mobile devices would be regarded as heaven. The FDA met with Apple executives in December and described how a glucometer having the ability of measuring blood sugar could be regulated by it. If such a device is used for nutrition, it could easily avoid regulation. However, if this device would be marketed to diabetes-afflicted individuals then it would automatically fall into the category of a medical device. It is expected that the tech companies will start off by focusing on non-medical applications first such as education and fitness.
A huge breakthrough would be needed even in the case of education. Some experts have said that the tech companies haven’t really grasped the core challenges they will have to face in the medical industry. A huge investment would be required for making the application leading to expenditure of billions. Silicon Valley has already started as Google has been upfront about its plans of developing smart contact lenses that will have the ability of measuring glucose and it has other programs in the works as well.