Apple close to smartwatch Holy Grail with glucose ‘moonshot’

Company hits gold with wearable glucose sensor
Wareable Glucose sensor
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Apple has hit a ‘major milestone’ on the road to non-invasive blood glucose monitoring, according to a new report.

That’s the word of Mark Gurman, Bloomberg’s Apple watcher-in-chief, who claims that the company has made breakthroughs in trials, and the company “now believes it could eventually bring glucose monitoring to the market.”

The project has been worked on in secret, and research dates back to the Steve Jobs era.

However, it’s no surprise this is a key area of research. Nearly every wearable company is researching non-invasive blood glucose tracking, which would be game-changing for millions of diabetics, but also have huge implications for those tracking diet and general wellness.

We previously reported rumors of Apple's glucose ambitions back in 2021.

Gurman reports, from unnamed sources, that Apple is using a process called optical absorption spectroscopy from a photonic sensor. This uses a laser instead of optical light from LEDs. 

If that sounds familiar, it’s the same tech as Rockley Photonics showed off in 2022. However, with great sadness, Rockley Photonics filed for bankruptcy last month – and seems to be another victim of the great glucose moonshot.

The Gurman report claims that Apple still has to miniaturize the sensor tech, and that it was still working to get the prototype to the size of an iPhone. So the idea of it making its way to the Apple Watch seems some way off.

That’s slightly surprising. Rockley had already miniaturized its tech to the size that could work in a wearable (although we have no idea about the accuracy levels). 

And Movano has also revealed to Wareable that it’s testing an RF sensor that can also live on the wrist – which it later hopes to use in a smart ring. It's started blood pressure trials, with glucose starting later this year.

It will be a long road still to Apple getting this sensor to the Apple Watch.

And we also don’t know the extent to which glucose will be tracked.

In a recent interview, Steven LeBoeuf of Valencell told Wareable he foresaw a future where a wrist wearable could indicate low, medium, or high levels of blood glucose.

However, he was skeptical that non-invasive sensors could rival CGMs at the accuracy required by diabetics.

We’ve also seen moves by the likes of Dexcom and Abbott for minimally invasive CGMs, that use a removable patch, to deliver painless, continuous glucose levels.

Those are also moving to the general consumer, with the launch of the Abbott Lingo and other products, such as Supersapiens, aimed at runners.

But Apple’s high-profile success is likely to intensify the competition to get a non-0invasive wearable glucose sensor.

The question now is when not if.

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James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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