The news comes the week of the 10th anniversary of Amy Tenderich's famous "Open Letter to Steve Jobs," which called on the tech giant to bring innnovation and better design to diabetes products.
A widely cited report states that Apple has assembled a confidential team to create something that has eluded the biomedical field thus far: a blood glucose sensor that doesn’t pierce the skin.
This step would be a game-changer for people with type 1 diabetes, as well those whose type 2 disease has reached a stage where continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is recommended. Those who use sensors must change them regularly, which adds to the cost of living with diabetes. Failure to do could cause the CGM to be inaccurate or lead to scar tissue, due to the skin puncture.
The report, which appeared late Wednesday on CNBC, said the project was the vision of the late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs. CNBC claims that the designers and engineers have reached a point where Apple is pursuing feasibility trials and hiring people to help the company navigate the FDA’s regulatory process.
Other companies have tried and failed to create a needle-free sensor, and some are still trying. Aspire Ventures, through its Tempo Health subsidiary, is working on a microfluid biosensor that would monitor blood glucose levels in sweat, its chief product officer told The American Journal of Managed Care last month.
Google’s Verily team is developing a contact lens that could measure blood glucose levels through the eye. Also, there have been a string of new partnerships between traditional consumer technology companies and medical device makers to improve the reliability, design, and user experience of diabetes technology.
For a company like Apple to offer such a product would instantly disrupt the market, however, given its size and marketing reach. The CNBC story said that such a leap would convert the Apple Watch from a “nice to have” to a “must have” for people with diabetes.
The timing of the news is significant: 10 years ago this week, DiabetesMine founder and advocate Amy Tenderich penned the essay, “An Open Letter to Steve Jobs,” calling on the Apple CEO to bring the same level of innovation and creative design to diabetes devices that he had brought the iPod, as sales reached the 100 million mark. Tenderich’s piece went viral and sparked discussion about the lack of user-friendly choices for people living with diabetes.
If the CNBC report is correct, Jobs listened. The news outlet says about 30 people are working on the project, and it cites Apple’s onboarding of experts from Medtronic, C8 Medisensors, Sano, and other companies.
According to CNBC, Apple did not respond to requests for comment.