The Apple Watch Series 8 is one of the best smartwatches you can buy, especially if you have an iPhone. But there's one sensor that's been on many people's wish lists for a long time now: a blood glucose monitor. And while that sensor isn't in the Apple Watch yet, it looks like it's coming to a future version of Apple's wearable.
According to a report (opens in new tab) in Bloomberg, Apple's "moonshot-style project" to bring non-invasive blood glucose monitoring to the Apple Watch has reached a "major milestone" in its development. It's not ready for the Watch just yet – the prototype is apparently the size of an iPhone – but the tech works, and now it's just a matter of making it small enough to fit into a wearable device. Given that the last prototype was apparently the size of a table, that's a process that Apple has already started.
Why blood glucose monitoring is a big win for Apple
For people with diabetes, blood glucose monitoring is crucial – and a pain, because it usually involves a needle. Apple's approach is different. It uses optical absorption spectroscopy, which uses a laser to shine light through the skin in order to determine how much glucose is in your blood.
The benefits of such a sensor don't just apply to people with diabetes. It might also be able to warn you of pre-diabetic symptoms, which would enable you to make lifestyle changes to prevent those symptoms becoming full diabetes.
The challenge here isn't just a technological one, though. It's a regulatory one too. Such a sensor is a medical device, and that means Apple would need to get US government approval; according to Bloomberg, Apple's people are already talking to US regulators about just that.
This is a genuinely exciting development, but we do need to curb our enthusiasm a little bit: you're not going to see this sensor in the Apple Watch Series 9 or even the Series 10. But it looks like Apple has cracked the hard bit, which is making an accurate non-invasive sensor. The rest is really just engineering.