Quantum Operation provided a sample of its data versus that of a commercial finger-prick monitor, the FreeStyle Libre. And, at this point, there seems to be a noticeable variation between Laptop and Libre. This, for now, can be a deciding factor for those who rely on accurate blood sugar readings to determine their insulin dose.
Non-invasive blood glucose monitoring is a kind of holy grail for the medical industry, as well as for major brands of wearable devices. After all, one in 10 Americans have diabetes, and that number is likely to rise as the obesity crisis continues to rage. In order to maintain their health, people with diabetes today must have regular blood tests with fingerprints or wear an implanted glucometer. Over the past five years, companies like Dexcom and Abbott have even found ways to connect these monitors to smartwatches for easy tracking.
Naturally, the wearable clothing industry was looking for an easier, less invasive way to do this to try and steal some of that lunch. Unfortunately, no company has been able to successfully demonstrate a working version of this technology, at least not on a commercial level. In 2017, a company – PKVitality – came to CES with a watch that had a series of 0.5mm tall hands on the back of its watch that collected the interstitial fluid from your skin. But that hardly counts as non-invasive.
Apple has reportedly been working on a blood sugar monitoring platform since even before Steve Jobs died. Rumors surfaced in 2017 that the company had a dedicated laboratory looking for ways to monitor blood sugar using a cell phone. In 2018, Appleinsider discovered a patent the company had filed related to the use of absorption spectroscopy to monitor blood sugar.
This secret team would have been reinforced by the former employees of C8 MediSensors, a company that failed to accomplish this task early in the last decade. It raised $ 60 million in investments from companies like GE, but failed to create a working product until it closed in early 2013. One MIT Technical Review The 2014 company profile said that C8 just couldn’t solve the problem of variability – where readings differ from person to person – before it ran out of money.
A technique called Raman spectroscopy saw some to promise both in the example above and in other projects. In 2018, a group of researchers from University of Missouri and MIT discovered that a laser, through a fiber optic cable, could be used to monitor glucose when pressed against the wrist. At the time, researchers said the system could deliver readings comparable to a finger prick test.
There is still a long way to go before we can see this kind of technology in a working product, even more before it is in the one we want to buy. But if Quantum can demonstrate that it has avoided the pitfalls that some of its rivals have encountered and that its technology is precise enough, that could be pretty exciting.
Of course, being a fully virtual CES, it’s even more difficult to take the company’s fantastic claims at face value. If we were at the show in person, we could test the device for ourselves and talk to the founders in person. It should also be noted that there is – as yet – no peer-reviewed or externally validated science to support this specific technology and its application. We cannot yet pass serious judgment on this technology, beyond saying that if Quantum Operation can deliver on its promises, then we may be on the cusp of a very exciting time for clothing.