Diabetes affects about 37 million people in the U.S. What many people don’t know is that significantly more people (about 40% of US adults) are at serious risk of developing diabetes, a condition called prediabetes. Most don’t know because prediabetes works silently. As a result, nearly 80% of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. Despite the availability of standard testing technologies, there’s a need to make many of these tools more available to people, which may help improve early diagnosis and improve a person’s overall health by preventing full-blown diabetes.
What better way to make diagnostic tools ubiquitously available than with smartphones, something that is pervasive in our society nowadays? A team of researchers have done just that, designed a new system called GlucoScreen that can help people measure their glucose levels from their smartphone. The system is described in a study published in Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.
Currently, all the system needs to operate is a touch-screen smartphone with a working flashlight. The system is powered with a smartphone’s flashlight that powers a solar cell and doesn’t currently require a battery to operate. Commonly-used test strips are used for users to provide a drop of blood for analysis and attached to the smartphone. Then, once the strip analyzes the blood sample, it sends this information to the touch screen, where it communicates the analysis in a series of Morse code-like aps on the touch screen. This enables the smartphone to generate a glucose reading, as well as messaging about whether a persons should seek care from a doctor.
Initial testing of the device found that it was at least as accurate as standard test strips available on the market today. All users would need to do is install the app for the diagnostic tool to work. Researchers hope that by making it easier to access important diagnostic technology that more people can detect their risk of developing diabetes.