Apple has been steadily improving its health credentials over generations of Apple Watch, starting with fall detection and an ECG sensor on the Series 4, before adding blood oxygen tracking to the Series 6.
Now the company is hoping to introduce something more ambitious for the Apple Watch 7: a blood glucose sensor, capable of telling diabetics when their blood sugar levels are dropping to dangerous levels.
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The report news comes from ETNews, which claims that both Apple and Samsung will be introducing the technology in their wearables this year. In Apple’s case, this is likely to be a skin-top continuous monitoring solution that doesn’t require an implant, with the company apparently “focusing on securing reliability and stability prior to commercialization of the technology.”
Assuming that this is both true and that the reliability is high enough for people to trust, this could be huge news for diabetics. As we explained back in November, while the current Apple Watch can be used in tandem with other continuous blood sugar tracking devices, it’s not exactly cheap.
Options include Dexcom ($245 for transmitters, $1,035 for a three-month supply of disposable sensors) or FreeStyle Libre ($69.99 for the receiver, $35.99 per ten-day sensor.) Manual testing systems like One Drop ($30.99 to $89.99 per month depending on the number of tests you take per day) are cheaper, but obviously less convenient.
While essential for diabetics, blood sugar monitoring can also provide interesting insights to those without an underlying medical condition. Even an imperfect blood glucose sensor could be useful for those who want to eat better and lose weight. This could ultimately be how Apple markets the new sensor, especially if the early implementation isn’t sufficiently robust for diabetics to abandon their existing solutions.
Of course, long-time readers of Tom’s Guide may reflect that they’ve heard this before. Back in 2017, we reported that Apple had hired a secret team of biomedical engineers tasked with developing blood sugar monitors, and CEO Tim Cook was even said to have been seen wearing a prototype.
Four years later, perhaps we’ll finally see this technology arrive as Cook takes to the stage for Apple’s annual September event, when we expect both the Apple Watch 7 and iPhone 13 to debut.
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Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.