A Second "Secret" Apple Team is now working on an Apple Watch glucose testing solution, led by Apple’s VP of Platform Architecture
Apple has been working on various approaches to delivering a breakthrough solution for those with diabetes so as to avoid having to prick their finger on a daily basis to test their glucose levels for over a decade. One early patent was posted in 2015 yet filed in 2013. Since that time there have been several other patents, each taking a different approach: 01, 02 and 03 titled "Apple won a Major Patent for an 'Integrated Photonics Device' that could be used in a Future Apple Watch for Monitoring Blood Glucose+." In 2021, The Medical Device Network posted a report titled "Wearables and health tracking: Photonics could reinvent the Apple Watch." The report noted that "Rockley Photonics is thought to be developing technology that could allow the Apple Watch to non-invasively track blood glucose levels." The use of Silicon Photonics has been the most promising approach to date.
Six years ago we reported on a "Secret Apple Team Closing in on Diabetes Testing Breakthrough." That rumor came from Bloomberg, the very same source for today's updated rumor report titled "Apple Taps New Chief for Team Developing Watch’s Glucose Tracker."
The rumor now claims that "Apple Inc. has named a new leader for its secret group working on a noninvasive blood sugar monitor, putting a veteran iPhone and Mac chip executive in charge of one of the company’s most ambitious forays into health technology.
Tim Millet, Apple’s vice president of platform architecture, has taken charge of the project after it was left without a dedicated head for several months, according to people with knowledge of the change, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The team leading the work, called the Exploratory Design Group, or XDG, was previously led by scientist Bill Athas, who died at the end of last year.
After Athas’ death, the group was overseen on an ad-hoc basis by his former deputies, who were elevated to report directly to Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies. The glucose-tracking team now reports to Millet, who has been one of Srouji’s top two lieutenants for a decade and an Apple employee for about 19 years.
The group working on the glucose tracker resides within Apple’s semiconductor organization because the system relies on an advanced chip-based system. It uses a range of sensors to shoot lasers into the skin and determine how much glucose is present in a person’s body.
Combined with artificial intelligence algorithms, the chip can then determine a person’s blood sugar." For more, read the full Bloomberg report.
Considering that Apple's work on this project dates back at least a decade, hopefully their getting closer to a solution that could assist well over 537 million living with diabetes as of 2021 and the IDF Diabetes Atlas predicts that number will climb to 643 by 2030 and 783 million by 2045.
This is huge market to tap into and it's a race to be the leader. Google patented a contact lens back in 2014 to monitor blood glucose. Novartis eye care unit Alcon had struck a deal to license Google's smart lens technology.
An update in 2018 by Verily stated that We are at a point where we have decided, together with Alcon, to put the glucose-sensing lens work on hold, while continuing to focus on the smart accommodating contact lens and smart intraocular lens projects.
The update further noted that the "clinical work on the glucose-sensing lens demonstrated that there was insufficient consistency in our measurements of the correlation between tear glucose and blood glucose concentrations to support the requirements of a medical device.
Samsung filed for a patent back in 2021 for a more tame approach that's closer to diabetic patch system as noted in one of their patent figures below sending readings to a Galaxy smartphone.
The first secret team at Apple didn't deliver a solution and it's far too early to predict whether secret team number two will actually deliver that breakthrough that Apple and others have been seeking for well over a decade.
With Elon Musk's Neuralink working on microchips to assist those with neurological conditions, one can't rule out that some company may also be working on a chip implant for measuring blood sugar accurately.
At the end of the day, will Apple finally be able to deliver an accurate technology to measure blood glucose without pricking a finger or implanting a chip? While only time will tell, Apple Watch sales would certainly skyrocket with a reliable solution approved by the FDA and recommended by the American Diabetes Association. And, as one with Type 2 Diabetes, I'm certainly cheering Apple on to be sure.
For the record: While this report was ready at 1:30 PM PST we were unable to post it UNTIL 4 PM PST due to our blogging service being down.