Unhealthy obesity-inducing diet and lack of proper physical activity, among other things, have made diabetes one of the most common diseases afflicting the American population. A study, by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that one in three adults in the United States will suffer from diabetes by the year 2050. In recent decades, scientists have developed a number of innovative technologies that can help prevent, monitor and control this malady, more efficiently.
One major challenge for diabetics is having to undergo the unpleasant finger-prick test, several times a day. A few months back, we talked about a temporary tattoo, developed by the University of California, San Diego, which can meaure and record one’s blood glucose level without inflicting any pain. Tech giant Google has come up with yet another non-invasive technology in the form of a smartwatch that can easily take a small sample of the wearer’s blood. The company recently filed a patent for the contraption, which could help diabetics better manage the disease by painlessly monitoring their blood glucose levels, all through the day.
While Google has not revealed much as to how the device actually works, its patent application offers some insights into its workings. According to the information provided on the US Patent & Trademark Office website, the wearable contraption is made up of a fully-evacuated negative pressure barrel lined by a membrane at the distal end and a specially-built housing on the proximal side. An accelerator barrel, containing a microparticle, is present inside this negative-pressure barrel.
As ScienceAlert explains, the smartwatch-like device works by sending a sudden surge of gas into the accelerator barrel, which in turn causes the microparticle to create a tiny puncture on the wearer’s skin, in order to draw a small amount of blood. The blood is then sucked into the negative-pressure barrel. While the purpose of the contraption has not been clearly mentioned in the application, it is safe to assume that it will help diabetics measure and monitor their blood glucose levels, in a non-invasive, pain-free way.
This device is one of the many technologies, currently being developed by Google, for diabetes sufferers. For instance, the researchers at the Google Life Sciences are busy creating smart contact lenses that are capable of recording a person’s blood sugar levels. The organization is also working on special, disposable bandage that actually doubles as an advanced glucometer. Speaking about the current project, the company told The Verge:
Such an application might be used to draw a small amount of blood, for example, for a glucose test. we hold patents on a variety of ideas — some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents.