A new reuseable glucose-monitoring smartphone case developed by engineers at the University of California San Diego could make it easier for diabetics to test blood glucose without using a traditional kit, according to an article published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
"Integrating blood glucose sensing into a smartphone would eliminate the need for patients to carry a separate device," Patrick Mercier, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC San Diego and senior author, said in a statement. "An added benefit is the ability to autonomously store, process, and send blood glucose readings from the phone to a care provider or cloud service.”
The device, called GPhone, is built into a smartphone case with an accompanying app which lets patients record and track their glucose readings. The 3D-printed case fits over the smartphone and has a permanent, reusable sensor on the corner. It also has enzyme-packed pellets that magnetically attach to the sensors. The pellets are housed in the 3D stylus attached to the side of the case, according to a statement.
Users perform the glucose test by dispensing one of the pellets from the stylus onto a bare sensor strip on the case, which in turn activates the sensor. The user then puts a drop of blood on the to the reusable sensor strip which takes the sample. From there, the electronic module wirelessly transmits the data to the app where it can be displayed on the user’s mobile screen. The pellet is discarded after the test. The stylus holds enough pellets for 30 tests, according to the statement.
"This system is versatile and can be easily modified to detect other substances for use in healthcare, environmental, and defense applications,” Joseph Wang, coauthor and nanoengineering professor at UCSD, said in a statement.
One day the team plans to integrate glucose sensing directly into the smartphone instead of the case, but this move is currently at the proof-of-concept stage, according to the press statement.
Next, the researchers hope to develop the product so that less blood is needed. The engineers also plan on developing the GPhone to send alerts reminding users to check their blood sugar, according to the press statement.
Both Google and Medella Health have also expressed interest in developing a glucose-sensing contact lens. In 2016, Medella got a boost when they raised $1.4 million in funding for the project. However, a product like this is yet to hit the market.