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Apple's non-invasive glucose reader for Apple Watch may be 'years away'

Apple is still developing a non-invasive glucose reader, but the technology might not show up in an Apple Watch for several years, a report said this week.

The company is "continuing research," according to the New York Times, which cited two sources familiar with the project. Industry experts consulted by the paper however suggested that Apple — and other companies — are likely years away from a commercial product.

Apple's interest in the technology has been rumored for some time, and is said by Times sources to date back to co-founder Steve Jobs, who in the last months of his life approved a research project because he disliked pricking his finger for blood sugar testing. The CEO was coping with diabetes at the same time as his battle with cancer.

The company reportedly considered trying the feature in the first-generation Watch, which shipped in 2015, but it was one of several health technologies the company ditched because it was either unreliable or forced compromises in size or battery life.

In its current incarnation the Apple Watch shares many of the same health features as rival devices from Garmin, Polar, Samsung and others, namely step and stand tracking, calorie burn estimates, and continuous heart rate tracking. The company is rumored to be working on adding an EKG monitor, triggered by squeezing the frame of a Watch.

Both that and a glucose reader will probably require approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which — though fast-tracking may be available — could complicate any launch.