Apple Watch / Personal Tech and their Health Monitoring Applications

 

Apple Watch continued to make headlines across April and May this year, with one US ecommerce tracker (Slice Intelligence) projecting that Apple received 1 million pre-orders on April 10th; its first day of accepting pre-orders. Actual sales began on April 24th in the US, with other geographies following a pre-determined release plan. The inherent desirability of a new Apple product line to many purchasers, alongside familiar iOS features allowing phones calls / SMS, Passbook, Siri, Maps; with the additional ability of the Apple Watch to be used as a mobile payment system, have drawn a massive amount of consumer and industry attention.

 

What Apple have also attempted to do with the Watch, and as part of their overall growing portfolio of interest, is play up the health possibilities of the Apple Watch – i.e. health tracking applications. Many iPhone users are familiar with the ‘softer’ health applications, both native and 3rd party, to track one’s running statistics, calorie burn, ovulation, gym stats etc., however a massive potential market is in the harder end of health.

 

Apple have begun to offer the likes of a heart rate monitor via the Apple Watch, as well as the external iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor that communicates with your IPad / iPhone / iPod. Apple’s iHealth Wireless Pulse Oximeter lets you take fast, non-invasive blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), pulse rate (BPM) and Perfusion Index (PI) readings at your fingertip. It can then send the results via Bluetooth to the SpO2 app on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. A huge potential market will be an app that can track blood glucose levels, for diabetics – to allow the Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG);

 

A little bit about SMBG

 

What we are increasingly seeing in the US SMBG market is ‘Continuous Glucose Monitoring’ (CGM), CGM is typically a temporary sensor implanted under the skin to record continuous glucose measurements of diabetic patients over a 24 hour / 7 day format. This information is fed from an intradermal sensor to a display unit, which can then transfer data, via Bluetooth, to your laptop, PC, or smart appliance.

 

Already we have seen US medical device maker DexCom create an app for the iPhone / iPad, via iOS, that receives data from a patients’ Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) via Bluetooth, this data can be shared with multiple users via an App / web portal. In May 2015 Dexcom’s latest version of their CGM App allowed Android users access to data for the first time.

 

From this early market App entrance on iOS, DexCom is currently designing an app that will display readings from its glucose monitor on to the Apple Watch, allowing patients with a transdermal glucose monitoring system an easy monitoring option via the Watch, with the likelihood of multiple users having access to continuous glucose figures, again via an App / web portal. Such a regular data stream leads to improved monitoring of a patient’s health leading to bespoke treatments plans and potentially reduced hypoglycaemic events. This data availability comes into its own for the elderly, children or other patient groups that need additional support.

 

So currently blood glucose can be measured under the skin (trans-dermally), and then data can be harvested and tracked via an app, or to anyone that logs onto a secure web portal. So to summarise - the Apple Watch is not itself measuring the blood glucose levels it is merely displaying the figures from a sensor.

 

What would be amazing is if the Smart Watch could take the readings itself

 

This might not be as far away as previously thought – from our own research at GMR Data we can see that some medical device companies are developing continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technologies which offer continual information on blood glucose levels, but crucially they don’t break the skin; they are non-invasive, could this tech, when refined, be included on subsequent models of Apple Watch?

 

Integrity Applications (Ashkelon, Israel); Have brought to the market GlucoTrack. GlucoTrack features a small sensor that clips to the earlobe and measures the wearer’s blood glucose level by taking measurements using three technologies. The measurements are analysed using a proprietary algorithm and displayed on a small handheld device, the size of a mobile phone. The company has obtained a CE Mark approval for its GlucoTrack Model DF-F in Europe (June 2013) and intends to seek Food and Drug Administration approval for GlucoTrack Model DF-F in the United States.

 

MediWiSe (London, UK) are developing a non-invasive blood glucose meter called ‘GlucoWise’. GlucoWise technology enables blood glucose concentration to be measured at the capillary level; with a sensor typically clipped to the ear lobe or on the skin between the index finger and thumb.

 

Personal technology is coming to the forefront of the health sector, allowing everybody greater access to their health information. What these tech companies, such as Apple, alongside traditional medical device manufacturers, are producing, will affect the health of millions of people worldwide.

 

We interviewed both Integrity Applications & MediWiSe for our recent Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose Market report, which was released earlier this year.