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The Apple Watch won’t be able to measure glucose levels anytime soon, if ever

December 27th, 2017 at 8:00 PM
Apple Watch Features

Even before the Apple Watch was introduced, there were rumors surrounding the company’s interest in developing a wearable device capable of monitoring a user’s glucose levels in a non-invasive manner. Without question, such an advancement in glucose monitoring would represent an immense medical breakthrough as it would be a godsend for diabetics who typically have to measure their glucose levels multiple times a day.

While various startups and established biotech companies have spent decades trying to crack non-invasive glucose monitoring with no real success to speak of, rumblings of Apple’s continued interest in the field have persisted for years now. Indeed, a new report from The New York Times relays that Apple’s research into non-invasive glucose monitoring remains ongoing.

Interestingly enough, we learn that the impetus from Apple’s interest in the field stems from Steve Jobs’ own battle with diabetes.

In the last months of Steve Jobs’s life, the Apple co-founder fought cancer while managing diabetes.

Because he hated pricking his finger to draw blood, Mr. Jobs authorized an Apple research team to develop a noninvasive glucose reader with technology that could potentially be incorporated into a wristwatch, according to people familiar with the events…

The original Apple Watch, which saw development begin after Jobs’ passing, has since become an incredibly popular health and fitness tracker. Indeed, just recently a rumor emerged claiming that future Apple Watch models may incorporate an EKG heart monitor as a means to detect significant heart ailments ahead of time.

As for Apple’s interest in non-invasive glucose monitoring, that solution, if one is ever discovered, remains years away according to the Times.

Indeed, John L. Smith, one of the world’s foremost experts on non-invasive glucose research, wrote the following in his seminal book, The Pursuit of Noninvasive Glucose: “Hunting the Deceitful Turkey”.

As in the attempts detailed here, the horizon will continue to be clouded by spurious correlation, incomplete understanding of the sources of error, lack of rigorous evaluation of results and wishful interpretation of data. Unlike the cure for cancer, where partial success has been achieved in many areas, this one still seeks a breakthrough.

In the interim, medical device companies are still developing products that can measure glucose levels via standard methods but can interface with the Apple Watch and relay pertinent information to users.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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