Checking blood-glucose levels is not fun. Typically it involves a finger, a needle, and a bit of blood. For some, this method can be difficult or impossible, but for many others it is a daily source of pain and discomfort.
However, in just the last year, there have been great strides toward finding a non-invasive, painless alternative to the classic prick-and-check method.
Have a look at some amazing advancements that may someday completely change the way you check your blood-sugar levels:
3. Glucose Tattoo Sensor
A team of graduate students at the University of California, San Diego have developed a prototype for a temporary tattoo that’s capable of monitoring blood-glucose levels for its wearer.
The device itself (pictured above) is a patterned series of electrodes that emit a mild electrical current, drawing sodium ions toward the skin’s surface. The tattoo’s sensor component then measures the electrical strength of the glucose molecules carried by the ions to ascertain the wearer’s glucose levels.
Although the technology doesn’t yet exist for the tiny tattoo to produce a numerical output, this “proof-of-concept” model could be the precursor to a low-cost, non-invasive system for continuously monitoring sugar levels.
2. E-Jet Glucose Sensor
At Oregon State University, engineers have produced a glucose sensor with electrohydrodynamic jet (“e-jet”) printing, also called “additive manufacturing,” which is similar to inkjet printing except that the “ink” consists of biomaterials like enzymes.
The device, which works similarly to an artificial pancreas, would require only a single point of entry to monitor blood-sugar levels. When matched with a portable insulin pump, the e-jet sensor provides a more comfortable method for maintaining safe levels of glucose.
While the device is still currently in the testing phase, it should make for a simpler, less expensive alternative to current artificial pancreas devices when it is eventually put on the market.
1. Apple Watch Glucose Tracker
Later this month, Apple will release it’s next new device: the Apple Watch. One of its first available apps will be Dexcom’s blood-glucose-monitoring software, which has already received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
In order to measure blood-sugar levels the app requires an under-the-skin monitor, which sends updates to the device every five minutes. Like pretty much everything else in the Apple Watch, Dexcom’s app will require the use of an iPhone.
Although this monitoring system may set you back a bit after you purchase all the components, it certainly improves upon previous glucose monitoring technologies.