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Apple inching closer to noninvasive blood glucose testing tech

Apple's moonshot project to use the Apple Watch as a noninvasive glucose meter has reportedly reached a "proof of concept" stage, but will still take years to come to market.

Being able to monitor blood glucose levels without any invasive procedures has regularly been rumored to be coming, but research was expected to take many more years.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, it will still take time to become part of the Apple Watch, but the research has passed a significant milestone. Unspecified sources, seemingly within Apple, say that after 12 years they have reached what they call a proof of concept stage.

This means that Apple now believes it has the technology working, but it needs to be shrunk down to Apple Watch size. Reportedly, the company's engineers are currently working to create an iPhone-sized prototype that would then be strapped to person's leg.

The system, which used to occupy a table top, has been tested by Apple on hundreds of people over the last 10 years. Each result was then compared to traditional tests that involve taking blood samples.

Bloomberg says that as well as reaching a milestone, however, the small research team on the project recently had a major setback. Its leader, Bill Athas, died suddenly in late 2022.

Reportedly, the work has been taken over by some of Athas's deputies. That includes Apple managers Dave Simon and Jeff Koller, who report to Johny Srouji, Apple's senior vice president of Hardware Technologies.

It's also now claimed that Apple's research began as an entirely separate startup company called Avolonte Health LLC which had no apparent connection with Apple. However, the firm was created in 2010 when Steve Jobs got Apple to quietly buy another health firm, RareLight.

In 2021, it was reported that an Apple supplier, Rockley Photonics, had managed to get the technology down to Apple Watch size, but there has been no release as yet

That company produced what it described as a reference design, which meant it was a working device that was only intended for other manufacturers to base shipping watches on. Even so, the Rockley Photonics reference design was clearly build atop an Apple Watch.

The long history of Apple's blood glucose aim

While there have been strong rumors of a release since at least 2017, it was Apple's significant relationship with that firm that at one point led to the expectation the glucose feature would be in the 2022 Apple Watch Series 7.

In the meantime, there was a 2022 Homebrew project that saw one Apple Watch owner create a complication and watchOS app that worked in conjunction with a third-party glucose monitor.