Health monitoring features on the Apple Watch have kept users alive since the timepiece was first released in April 2015. The heart rate monitor is perhaps the most well known of the timepiece's life-saving tools and we have written quite a few stories over the years about people who had their life saved by the Apple Watch. Another tool on the Apple Watch to save lives is the electrocardiogram (ECG) which debuted with the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018.
The Apple Watch could track your blood sugar as soon as next year
The ECG is used to detect an irregular heart rhythm which provides an early warning about atrial fibrillation (AFib). The latter can lead to strokes, blood clots, heart failure and other serious ailments. And last year, the Apple Watch Series 6 added a blood oxygen monitor which keeps tabs on the percentage of oxygen being carried by your red blood cells.
Knowing the percentage of oxygen that your red blood cells are carrying from your lungs throughout the rest of your body can give you a general idea about your health and might even give you advanced warning about COVID-19. A normal reading would be a range between 95% to 100%. Another useful feature on the timepiece will alert pre-selected contacts if you've fallen and can't get up.
Over the years, there has been talk about adding a feature to the Apple Watch that would allow it to measure a user's blood sugar. This is very important to insulin dependent diabetics who need to get a reading on their blood sugar before each insulin injection since the amount of sugar found in their blood determines the dosage of each shot. Currently, a diabetic has to draw blood for each test, dabbing it onto a costly test strip which is then inserted into a glucometer to obtain a reading.
The process is, as we said, painful and costly and if Apple can allow the Apple Watch to deliver blood sugar readings without requiring the user to draw blood and buy new test strips, Apple Watch sales could reach a new plateau. And today, The Telegraph reports out of the U.K. that an SEC filing hints that Apple will be adding the glucometer feature to the Apple Watch in 2022.
The newspaper says that Apple has been outed as the largest customer of a company called Rockley Photonics. Rockley, as it turns out, has developed next generation sensors that are expected to be inside devices by next year. Its sensors can read certain signals from a person's blood by shining infrared light through the skin from the back of a smartwatch.
Apple's relationship with Rockley went public after the latter filed documents in New York as it prepares to sell stock to investors. The firm has offices in Oxford, Wales and Silicon Valley. The documents stated that Apple has been the source of a majority of its revenues over the last two years, and a "supply and development agreement" agreed to by both firms means that Apple will continue to be the source of most of Rockley's income.
Rockley CEO Andrew Rickman said that he expects his company's technology to be in consumer products next year, but would not say if an Apple device will be involved. Besides measuring glucose levels, Apple could be looking to add other sensors for the Apple Watch that would monitor a user's alcohol level and blood pressure. Offering Apple Watch users an accurate sensor that measures glucose levels though, would certainly be a feather in Apple's cap.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has often mentioned how important healthcare monitoring is to the future of Apple. The Apple Watch is a good example of how the company is trying to integrate its hardware and software along the lines of tracking one's health.