Apple is gradually adding new health features to its smartwatches. The first Apple Watch’s main feature was the heart rate monitor, but later, the watch learned how to take an ECG and even measure the level of oxygen in the blood (in Apple Watch Series 6). Cupertino will not stop there and want to make it the main function of Apple Watch 7, released in late 2021, determining blood sugar levels. Since health apps are the main selling point of the Apple Watch, many expected the Cupertino-based company to expand its “medical capabilities.” And the blood sugar sensor will become an even more important component than the heart rate monitor and oxygen sensor.
So far, there are only invasive blood glucose meters that can transfer data to Apple Watch.
When Apple first released the Apple Watch, the company primarily advertised it as a convenient way to view and respond to notifications. However, it quickly became apparent that the health and fitness features were the most interesting to potential buyers. Apple adapted the development of new products and promoted existing ones accordingly.
Simultaneously, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company would be cautious about adding new medical features to the watch. He fears that the need for approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could slow the emergence of new opportunities.
We don’t want Apple Watch features to need FDA approval. This will keep us from innovating a lot. Perhaps some separate application will be approved, but not the whole clock.
However, after a couple of years, Cook changed his mind. In 2018, the company added ECG functions to the watch, including arrhythmia detection, and last year, blood oxygen saturation was added to the capabilities of Series 6.
Apple Watch 7 Blood Sugar Sensor
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The next obvious step would be the function determination of blood sugar… The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 10% of Americans have type 1 diabetes, with more than 26 million cases yet diagnosed. The situation is similar in many other countries, where people do not know that they have latent diabetes. Adding a blood sugar sensor to your Apple Watch can be extremely important in testing, diagnosing, and treating diabetes.
Sounds cool? The problem is that today in the world, there is not a single non-invasive glucometer (which would accurately determine the blood sugar level without a puncture). Some glucometers use a sensor to “suck” glucose from the intercellular fluid through the hair follicles, but their effectiveness has also not been proven. With a pulse oximeter, the story is different – it determines the degree of brightness of the blood through a sensor and, using this parameter, calculates how much hemoglobin in arterial blood is associated with oxygen. This indicator is expressed as a percentage and is called blood oxygen saturation.
Puncture-free glucometers are still being developed. Like the Israeli GlucoTrack device, ear clips for type 2 diabetics.
Therefore, it is unlikely that the existing infrared sensor in the Apple Watch will also act as a blood glucose detector. There are already devices available to measure blood sugar levels at home and sync with the app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, but they work using an invasive method.
Interestingly, the heart rate sensor in all Apple Watches can detect oxygen levels, but Apple “reserved” this feature for Series 6. Even if it turns out that the same sensor can measure blood sugar levels (which I personally doubt ), the company could take the same approach and make it an Apple Watch 7 exclusive.