FDA blood glucose statement doesn’t mean we won’t see it in an Apple Watch


The FDA blood glucose measurement statement yesterday seemed, on the face of it, to be bad news for anyone hoping to see the feature in a future Apple Watch.

But while the health agency is absolutely right to take a cautious approach, this doesn’t mean that we should give up hope …

FDA’s blood glucose statement

The notice was unusually blunt – going beyond warnings about accuracy limitations, and noting that none of the existing devices are FDA approved. The headline was unequivocal:

Do Not Use Smartwatches or Smart Rings to Measure Blood Glucose Levels: FDA Safety Communication

The actual text was a little more circumspect, noting the “risks” of using non-approved devices, but still included a very stark reminder of the potential consequences.

Taking too much of these medications can quickly lead to dangerously low glucose, leading to mental confusion, coma, or death within hours of the error.

And its advice was equally clear:

Do not buy or use smartwatches or smart rings that claim to measure blood glucose levels.

But it relates to current devices, not future ones

But it’s important to stress that the FDA isn’t arguing that non-invasive blood sugar measurement is impossible – only that nobody has yet produced a reliable device.

And even if the FDA were declaring it impossible, that still wouldn’t mean anything. As Nelson Mandela famously said, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Viable lightbulbs were once considered impossible. Moving at more than 30mph. Heavier-than-air flight. Splitting the atom. Running a four-minute mile. Skyscrapers. Putting a human being on the moon. Heart surgery.

Reliable non-invasive blood glucose measurement is one of the holy grails of health tech, with a great many researchers working on it, across both academic institutions and businesses. Huge amounts of money, time, and effort are being invested in it. Sooner or later, someone will crack the problem – and do so to the satisfaction of the FDA.

That someone may or may not work for Apple. If not, then Apple will either buy the company or licence the tech. But there’s at least a decent chance that this will be solved as a result of a partnership between academia and Apple, with the help of the health study approach the company pioneered back in 2017.

Indeed, the FDA was sufficiently impressed to grant Apple access to a pilot program specifically intended to fast-track the deployment of new health technology.

So I’m 100% confident we’ll one day see an Apple Watch with non-invasive blood sugar measurement, and that it will come with the necessary FDA approval. It’s a when question, not an if question.

Photo by Brandon Romanchuk on Unsplash

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.


The FDA blood glucose measurement statement yesterday seemed, on the face of it, to be bad news for anyone hoping to see the feature in a future Apple Watch.

But while the health agency is absolutely right to take a cautious approach, this doesn’t mean that we should give up hope …

FDA’s blood glucose statement

The notice was unusually blunt – going beyond warnings about accuracy limitations, and noting that none of the existing devices are FDA approved. The headline was unequivocal:

Do Not Use Smartwatches or Smart Rings to Measure Blood Glucose Levels: FDA Safety Communication

The actual text was a little more circumspect, noting the “risks” of using non-approved devices, but still included a very stark reminder of the potential consequences.

Taking too much of these medications can quickly lead to dangerously low glucose, leading to mental confusion, coma, or death within hours of the error.

And its advice was equally clear:

Do not buy or use smartwatches or smart rings that claim to measure blood glucose levels.

But it relates to current devices, not future ones

But it’s important to stress that the FDA isn’t arguing that non-invasive blood sugar measurement is impossible – only that nobody has yet produced a reliable device.

And even if the FDA were declaring it impossible, that still wouldn’t mean anything. As Nelson Mandela famously said, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Viable lightbulbs were once considered impossible. Moving at more than 30mph. Heavier-than-air flight. Splitting the atom. Running a four-minute mile. Skyscrapers. Putting a human being on the moon. Heart surgery.

Reliable non-invasive blood glucose measurement is one of the holy grails of health tech, with a great many researchers working on it, across both academic institutions and businesses. Huge amounts of money, time, and effort are being invested in it. Sooner or later, someone will crack the problem – and do so to the satisfaction of the FDA.

That someone may or may not work for Apple. If not, then Apple will either buy the company or licence the tech. But there’s at least a decent chance that this will be solved as a result of a partnership between academia and Apple, with the help of the health study approach the company pioneered back in 2017.

Indeed, the FDA was sufficiently impressed to grant Apple access to a pilot program specifically intended to fast-track the deployment of new health technology.

So I’m 100% confident we’ll one day see an Apple Watch with non-invasive blood sugar measurement, and that it will come with the necessary FDA approval. It’s a when question, not an if question.

Photo by Brandon Romanchuk on Unsplash

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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