Each and every day, more than 1.25 million Americans struggle to live with Type 1 Diabetes. There is no cure for this insidious disease, but treatment and maintenance options continue to evolve, and many individuals with T1D lead active and fulfilling lives. This past year ushered in many exciting new technologies aimed at helping persons with diabetes to better manage the disease. Here are a few of the most promising developments of 2017:
Several companies are developing smartwatches capable of routinely monitoring blood-glucose levels, tracking lactic acid buildup during exercise, and even using the wearer’s vital signs to check for specific patterns often found in individuals with diabetes. These new watches may prove invaluable in detecting and managing diabetes in a convenient, highly portable and non-invasive way. Doctors may benefit, too, as these watches offer a way for patients to automatically record a variety of medical data that can be used to provide better, more personalized care.
Smart Patch Injections
Finger-prick testing and insulin injections are essential aspects of managing Type 1 diabetes, but they present a number of challenges. They cause discomfort, require constant vigilance, and still do not always prevent complications. But medical research teams are hard at work bringing a high-tech new smart insulin patch to market. This patch utilizes an array of 121 painless microneedles to constantly monitor glucose levels, releasing insulin automatically when levels reach a certain threshold. The patch can also be customized depending on the individual’s precise needs, ensuring that people of all weights and sensitivity levels receive the treatment they need to keep diabetes in check.
Wearable Glucose Monitors
In an era of smart technology, it seems that virtually everything is being outfitted with sensors, processors, and wireless connectivity. That’s good news for individuals with diabetes, as a variety of new wearable smart products are being developed to aid in diabetes management. This includes constant glucose monitoring systems, which use a small, non-invasive patch to provide continuous monitoring of glucose levels, and smart socks that use embedded sensors and fiber optics to track key health data to prevent foot ulcers and other diabetes complications. Recent research may also lead to smart contact lenses that can measure glucose levels, intraocular pressure, and other key medical data.
Smart Home Integration
Modern homes are getting smarter than ever. They can automatically adjust thermostat temperatures, open blinds, turn on lights, and perform countless other tasks. With a little ingenuity, smart homes can also be used to aid in diabetes management. Few people know this better than Michael Maniscalco, a smart-home expert with a young son who suffers from Type 1 Diabetes. To ensure that he would never sleep through his son’s diabetic episodes, Michael created a smart home setup that automatically turns the lights on throughout his home if his son’s glucose levels drop too far. While there isn’t yet an all-in-one smart home system specifically aimed at individuals with diabetes, there is an active community of “makers” dedicated to creating innovative smart home solutions to assist people in better managing diabetes.
Diabetes Management Apps
In the past, many individuals tracked their glucose levels and other data with a pen and pad. Today, there’s a far more high-tech solution. Sugar.IQ, a mobile app for users with diabetes, leverages the power of the IBM Watson artificial intelligence platform to track users’ medical data, analyze it quickly, and offer real-time predictions and insights. Similarly, DiabNext offers an all-in-one solution that instantly tracks injections via a smart insulin pen, automatically fills logbooks, provides medication reminders, and uses artificial intelligence to make recommendations about disease management.
The number of people affected by Type 1 Diabetes is expected to balloon in the coming years. However, thanks to the technologies above, treatment and management are becoming more convenient—and more effective—than ever before.
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