Apple has long been rumored to be working on a way for the Apple Watch to noninvasively monitor the blood glucose levels of its users. This reading is used by diabetics to determine how much insulin they need to take before eating and usually requires a finger stick to draw blood. Such a feature for Apple's wearable could be years away. The company has been working on becoming a major presence in the health care industry, and CEO Tim Cook says that health care will be Apple's "greatest contribution to mankind." With that in mind, CNBC reports today that some Apple Stores have begun to sell a blood glucose reader (called a glucometer) that syncs with the iPhone, the Apple Watch and the Apple Health app.
The One Drop glucometer, priced at $69.95, features an iPhone app and a separate Apple Watch app. The meter itself takes the data from the blood drawn by the diabetic and sends it to the One Drop app where it is integrated with Apple's Health app. The latter will allow diabetics to see their blood glucose data and associated analytics. There is also a subscription service that delivers test strips to users of the device. Each test requires the insertion of one strip into the glucometer.
Perhaps the Apple Watch will someday be equipped with a non-invasive glucometer
The One Drop app also comes with the option of purchasing additional coaching to help users manage their diabetes. Those purchasing the One Drop glucometer will receive one free year of coaching from a certified diabetes educator. And unlike most glucometers, One Drop looks like an expensive consumer electronic device. One Drop CEO, Jeff Dachis, said that the product was created to "create a sense of love and delight" when using the product. "We share a design philosophy (with Apple)" Dachis said. "We want our products and services to be beautiful so people like them. You don’t hear the word 'beautiful' often in the healthcare space."
Perhaps someday the Apple Watch will instantly give blood glucose readings to diabetics by tapping on the screen. But until then, a device like the One Drop glucometer can be purchased and used along with the Apple Health app to help diabetics better control their disease. There are also a number of iOS apps that will track blood glucose readings, but none come with the actual glucometer required to produce those readings.
Apple's health initiative currently revolves around its smartwatch. The Apple Watch Series 4 offers a heart rate monitor and an electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor. The latter looks for an abnormal heart rate that could be a sign of Atrial fibrillation or AFib. This condition can lead to blood clots, strokes, and death. The watch also has a fall detector that is automatically enabled for owners of the device aged 65 or older. If the owner of the watch falls, the watch senses this, taps the user's wrist and sounds an alarm. The user can then use the watch to contact emergency services or dismiss the alarm. If the watch determines that the user is not moving after about a minute, it will call 911 itself and send a message to the watch owner's emergency contacts; that message indicates that the user has suffered a hard fall and includes the location of the injured party. These features have already saved the lives of several Apple Watch wearers.