Wearables continue push into med device territory

finger holding contact lens

Wearables are moving beyond fitness gadgets to medical uses, including glucose monitoring, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that examines the trend.

For instance, the article notes, researchers at Seoul National University in Korea are developing a Band-Aid-size device that uses tiny biosensors to monitor the glucose in sweat through an adhesive patch and transmits results to a software application. The devices are aimed at diabetics who don’t want to prick their fingers multiple times a day to monitor glucose levels. Many fail to do so, which jeopardizes their ability to effectively control their diabetes.

Meanwhile, the Center for Wearable Sensors at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has developed a tattoo-based glucose sensor that does not puncture the skin, according to the article.

Such devices, the author points out, must adjust for the lower levels of glucose in sweat, amount of sweat produced, pH levels and body temperature. But there’s still some debate about the clinical relevance of glucose levels in sweat.

Other researchers are focused on glucose monitoring using tears, including Google’s contact lens-based approach, although the use of tears for such measurements also has been questioned, according to a recent STAT article.

The new non-invasive glucose monitors are expected, in the future, to be paired with minimally invasive ways to administer medication, the authors says.

To learn more:
- read the JAMA article
- check out the STAT article