In a paradigm shift for the smartphone industry, giants like Samsung and Apple are steering towards a groundbreaking frontier – the integration of non-invasive blood sugar tracking features. Over the next five years, this transformative technology is poised to redefine the capabilities of smartphones, offering a pain-free alternative for millions managing diabetes.
Samsung, fresh off announcing a new smartphone lineup and teasing the Galaxy Ring, is setting the stage for a health tech revolution. The company is channeling substantial investments into wearable devices, aiming to deliver more than just aesthetically pleasing gadgets. Samsung envisions smartphones equipped with features that revolutionize health monitoring, particularly in the realm of blood sugar tracking.
The pursuit of non-invasive blood sugar monitoring has become a focal point for tech leaders. Samsung's mobile digital health chief, Hon Pak, emphasized the significance of achieving continuous blood pressure and glucose monitoring, heralding a transformative era in digital health. The company's commitment involves substantial investments to overcome technological challenges and add these groundbreaking features to their smartphones.
The quest for non-invasive blood sugar tracking is not exclusive to Samsung. Apple, another major player in the tech industry, has been exploring continuous blood glucose monitoring since 2010. Both companies have invested years of research into developing methods that provide real-time glucose data without the need for invasive procedures.
While current technologies take time to develop, both Samsung and Apple are making significant strides. Samsung's 2020 collaboration with MIT showcased progress in non-invasive blood sugar monitoring using off-axis Raman spectroscopy, hinting at the potential integration of this technology into smartphones. However, the challenge lies in achieving accuracy comparable to traditional blood tests.
Technological challenges in non-invasive glucose monitoring:
Non-invasive glucose monitoring methods still face significant technological challenges. Current approaches involve measuring glucose in bodily fluids like urine or tears or using spectroscopy, shining light into the body, and measuring the reflections. While these methods are akin to heart rate and blood oxygen level measurements, applying them to blood glucose is more intricate.
Optical sensors, a key component of spectroscopy, may encounter accuracy issues for individuals with darker skin tones or tattoos. This is a concern, given the potential consequences of inaccurate readings, particularly for those managing diabetes. The challenges extend to wavelengths used in current non-invasive glucose monitoring.
FDA regulations add a layer of complexity, requiring rigorous scrutiny for any device claiming blood glucose monitoring capabilities. Unlike wellness features, incorrect readings in blood glucose monitoring can have severe consequences, making FDA approval crucial.
While consumer tech companies are unlikely to replace established methods like finger-prick tests or continuous glucose monitors soon, the incorporation of blood glucose monitoring features on smartwatches could serve fitness or wellness tracking purposes, possibly evolving into a screening tool for prediabetes.
Source: ZDNet, The Verge