A Korean report claims that an Apple Watch blood sugar sensor will be included in the Series 7 device, when it is launched later this year.

With health applications a major selling point of the Apple Watch, it has long been expected that the Cupertino company would want to expand its medical capabilities …

Background

When Apple first launched the Apple Watch, the company primarily marketed it as a convenient way to view and respond to notifications. It fairly quickly became apparent, however, that it was the health and fitness features which were driving sales, and Apple adapted its messaging and product development focus accordingly.

CEO Tim Cook had initially suggested that the company would be cautious in adding medical capabilities to the watch, as it feared that the need for FDA approval could hold back innovation.

We don’t want to put the watch through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. I wouldn’t mind putting something adjacent to the watch through it, but not the watch, because it would hold us back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long. But you can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it — maybe an app, maybe something else.

Responding to customer demand, however, Cook changed his mind. The company added ECG functionality to the Watch in 2018, including Afib detection – and last year saw blood oxygen saturation added to the capabilities of the Series 6.

Apple Watch blood sugar sensor

A blood sugar sensor would be an obvious next step. The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 10% of Americans have diabetes, and that over 26 million of them are undiagnosed. Adding a blood sugar sensor to the Apple Watch could play a hugely valuable role in prompting formal testing, diagnosis and treatment.

An ET News reports claims that both the Apple Watch Series 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 will be able to measure blood sugar when each is released later this year.

Samsung Electronics will be equipped with a blood glucose measurement function in the new smart watch ‘Galaxy Watch 4’ (tentative name) to be introduced in the second half of this year. It is a no-blood sampling method that detects the level of glucose in the blood without blood collection using an optical sensor, and is expected to contribute to the health management of the general public as well as diabetics […]

Not only Samsung Electronics, but also Apple is applying the blood glucose measurement function to the Apple Watch 7 to be introduced this year. With the related patent technology secured, it is focusing on ensuring reliability and stability prior to making the technology available.

It’s not clear at this stage whether the existing infrared sensor will be able to act as a blood glucose detector too. You can already buy affordable home test devices that sync to your iPhone and Apple Watch, but these rely on small pin-pricks. The current focus is on non-invasive detection, and this can be achieved via infrared sensors.

The heartrate sensor in all Apple Watches is capable of acting as an O2 sensor, but Apple reserved this feature for the Series 6. Even if it turns out that the same sensor could measure blood sugar too, the company may take the same approach and make it a Series 7 exclusive feature for marketing reasons.

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