Thanks to a new device developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo, people with diabetes will be able to monitor their blood sugar without the need of drawing blood.
In a study recently published in the International Journal of Mobile Human-Computer Interaction, researchers present a device which uses radar and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to see glucose levels without needing blood samples. An engineering professor and leader of his team, George Shaker, explains their concept:
“We want to sense blood inside the body without actually having to sample any fluid. Our hope is this can be realized as a smartwatch to monitor glucose continuously.”
The team collaborated with Google and Infineon (a hardware company from Germany). Together, they developed a small radar device. Then, they waited for feedback from teams around the world to find potential applications of the technology.
The system at Waterloo will use the small radar device to transmit high-frequency radio waves into liquids that have different levels of glucose, and those radio waves are reflected back to the device. The device then converts the information received through the reflected waves into digital data. Here, the AI developed by researchers will use machine-learning algorithms to analyze the digital data.
The program can detect glucose changes, and is based on over 500 wave features. Initial tests used on volunteers at the Research Institute for Aging in Waterloo showed that the new device has an accuracy of 85% – exactly as the traditional device that requires invasive blood analysis. Shaker said that “the correlation was actually amazing,” and that:
“We have shown it is possible to use radar to look into the blood to detect changes.”
The next step would be to refine the system for more precise results. They’re also working on making a smaller radar device to make it cheaper and consume less power.
Shaker added that he aims to combine the tech inside smartwatch:
“I’m hoping we’ll see a wearable device on the market within the next five years. There are challenges, but the research has been going at a really good rate.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere