Former Lilly diabetes exec's glucose sensing smartphone case begins crowdfunding

By Aditi Pai
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Akibah GluCaseSan Jose, California-based Akibah just launched a crowdfunding campaign for its connected glucometer smartphone case, called GluCase. The company's CEO is Larry Ellingson, who was previously chair of the American Diabetes Association as well as executive director of diabetes care at pharma company Eli Lilly.

GluCase stores all the tools that are normally included in a glucose meter kit including a test strip dispenser, a lancet, and a sensor -- no additional carrying case is needed.

After users place a blood sample on the test strip, a reading is sent to a companion app via Bluetooth. Only GluCase brand test strips will be compatible with the device. The reading is paired with contextual data that users can input into the app, including diet, activity, and medications. The user's care team can also access the data if the person with diabetes wishes via a portal. There will also be options for them to receive alerts when readings are either too high or too low. If the care team wants to then communicate with the patient, they can send alerts to the patient's phone. 

The device has not yet been cleared by the FDA, and Akibah appears to be following in Scanadu's footsteps by crowdfunding it and distributing it to backers as part of a crowdsourced study. Backers on Indiegogo are told to expect the device by June 2016 or a little earlier, if the company is able to ship it sooner.

Last year, Akibah was one of ten companies that participated in Sprint's first Mobile Health Accelerator, which has since broadened its focus from just health to all mobile startups.

GluCase isn't the first peripheral glucose meter to attach to a mobile phone. One of the earliest companies to attempt such a device was Healthpia, makers of the GlucoPhone, which has been dormant since 2009.

Sanofi through a partnership with Agamatrix offered up the iBGStar, the first iPhone-connected glucose meter, in 2011.

At the beginning of this year, rumors surfaced that Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S6 would feature a number of interchangeable phone covers that will provide different functionality to users, including a case that would add some kind of glucose meter, which would upload data directly into Samsung’s S Health app. The S6 launched in March and, so far, no sign of these smart cases.