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Hope and hype: Inside the push for wearable diabetes technology


 

Want to make a billion dollars? Here’s a hot tip: Invent wearable technology that detects diabetes, measures glucose levels, and determines how much insulin is needed – all without the need for a single drop of blood.

If you accept this mission, there’s a catch: You’ll have a whole bunch of company. When it comes to using technology to free patients with diabetes from the dreaded finger stick, “hope springs eternal in the hearts of scientists, entrepreneurs, opportunists, and charlatans alike,” writes electrochemical specialist and consultant John L. Smith, PhD, in his book “The Pursuit of Noninvasive Glucose.”

Google and Apple have been in the hunt, along with countless makers of devices and software. A noninvasive glucose monitoring system is the prime target, but there’s also plenty of interest in software that puts data from such devices as heartbeat sensors to work.

Dr. Laura Baers, a technology advisor with the market research company IDTechEx

Dr. Laura Baers

“Patients with diabetes are likely to be the early winners in the rise of digital health, a sector that attracted investment of $4.7 billion in 2017,” said Laura Baers, PhD, a technology adviser with the market research company IDTechEx, in an interview.

For the moment, however, results are elusive, and the name of the game is hype.

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