The tech giant has reportedly had hundreds of engineers working on the secret project deemed “E5” for years, pursuing technological capabilities that measure the glucose in a person’s body without pricking the skin for blood.
Bloomberg cited sources that indicate the technology is at the “proof of concept stage,” though the company could eventually bring the product to market after it is “shrunk down to a more practical size.” Work is continuing on a prototype that would ideally be the size of an iPhone and be located on a person’s bicep.
The report of Apple’s advancements in continuous glucose monitoring came days after The Hill reported that the company is boosting its lobbying efforts as President Biden considers a potential Apple Watch ban. In December, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Apple infringed on AliveCor’s wearable ECG patents, which could place an import ban on Apple Watches.
Of all the healthcare forays made by Apple, this would be among the most significant for its growth prospects as well as assisting consumers with diabetes.
Just over 37 million Americans have diabetes, yet less than 20% know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As such, the continuous glucose market is a sizable one that is expected to reach $16.33 billion by 2030, representing a compound annual growth rate of 17.33%, according to a report published in September.
Continuous glucose monitoring is a concept that has gained significant traction in the eyes of the public in recent years. Notably, Nick Jonas, who has type 1 diabetes, just starred in a Super Bowl commercial promoting Dexcom’s G7 continuous glucose monitoring system.
Still, continuous glucose monitoring systems on the market now involve devices that poke through the skin for a blood sample. The Bloomberg report stated that Apple’s device would use chip technology called silicon photonics and use a measurement process called optical absorption spectroscopy.
Ultimately, Bloomberg reported, the device would serve as “an essential item for millions of diabetics around the world.”
Apple has been ambitious in terms of equipping the Apple Watch with a suite of innovative, useful health features over the years. These include an ECG app to record a person’s heartbeat, sleep tracking and blood oxygen monitoring.
The most recent incarnation, the Apple Watch Ultra, has temperature-sensing functionality to record overnight temperature changes and advanced menstruation cycle tracking in addition to Heart Rate Zones that are calculated based on a person’s heart data.