Afon, the UK-based company that’s leading the charge for a non-invasive wrist-based glucose tracker, has announced it's close to commercializing its wearable device, after successful clinical trials.
The company has been conducting trials in Germany, and says that its device has been proven capable of tracking glucose levels non-invasively, and passed a big hurdle on the way to getting its device to market.
Unlike most wearables and health trackers, it's not a dedicated smartwatch. The Afon glucose tracker sits under the wrist and can be added to existing watch straps and worn with smartwatches, or even classic wristwatches.
The company hopes this will aid uptake, and it means it won't compete for wrist space, and people won't have to choose between wearing an Afon tracker, or an Apple Watch, for example.
"There are plenty of good smartwatch manufacturers out there and we don't want to displace those people and compete against them. So we decided to actually make a sensor that goes on the underside," Sabih Chaudhry, founder and CEO of Afon Technology told Wareable.
Afon works using an RF sensor, which is the same technology tested by Movano – but different from the rumored Apple sensor, which uses a spectroscopic sensor. And Chaudhry believes that there’s a race between several viable projects, using wa range of technologies – all with pros and cons.
“Various competitors are exploring different technologies, such as sweat monitoring, implantables, near-infrared spectroscopy, and radio frequency (RF) technology. That was our starting point due to our background in microwave-based treatment systems,” he said.
“There’s room for multiple players in this market, each technology has its merits and challenges. Which technology comes out first? I just hope that we're in the front pack,” he continued.
And it might just have a chance. As well as being more convenient and less expensive than a CGM, Chaudhry says that it also can generate better accuracy:
“One of the major advantages of our device, apart from being non-invasive, is that it measures glucose levels in real time. Unlike competitors like Abbott and Dexcom, which measure interstitial fluid, and have a 10-12 minute lag, our device measures blood glucose directly, providing immediate results. This helps users monitor their food patterns and better manage their blood glucose levels,” said Chaudhry.
What’s more, it doesn’t need to be thrown away after two weeks, like a CGM.
“It's going to have a rechargeable battery and the battery lasts two weeks. This device is not disposable so you don't throw it away after two weeks. The shelf life of this device or the lifetime of this device is about two years,” he said.
The company will aim its product at type 2 diabetics and pre-diabetics, who are looking to manage their condition but are unlikely to engage with a CGM, which requires a prescription, or an expensive plan. It's also uncomfortable to apply, and sits on the skin permanently.
“If you have a non-invasive device that they can take off, put back on, and it alarms when they're doing it, it gives them an indication of their food patterns and how the body behaves according to the data. That's a lot of information that will help them manage blood glucose,” Chaudhry said.
But getting the Afon sensor to market will be a big challenge, and it will need regulatory clearance. But Afon says it’s already working towards those requirements, even for the FDA, which will be no small challenge:
“Our regulatory team has been working from day one to ensure we meet all commercialization requirements. Our primary goal is to obtain the CE mark, and we are also engaging with a consultant for FDA approval.
While tech giants like Apple have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on their solutions, Afon is a small team in South Wales with just £5 million in funding.
“We look at Apple and at what they're doing, they spent $100 million or something like that on that technology to launch, and it’s still the size of an iPhone on your arm,” he continued.
“We're a small outfit in South Wales and a team of 16 people. It makes me really proud.”
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