Radar and AI used to monitor blood glucose

Friday, 25 September 2020

Researchers have developed new technology that can quickly and accurately monitor blood glucose levels without painful finger pricks.

The palm-sized device developed by University of Waterloo uses radar and artificial intelligence (AI) to read blood inside the human body.

“Our device is non-invasive. The key advantage is simply no pricking,” said George Shaker, an engineering professor at Waterloo.

“That is extremely important for people living with diabetes. Especially the elderly who might have sensitive skin or children who require multiple tests throughout the day.”

How the device works

The new device works by sending radio waves through the skin and into blood vessels when users place the tip of their finger on a touchpad.

The waves are reflected back to the device for analysis by AI software, telling users within seconds whether their blood glucose has gone up, down or remained the same.

Changes are measured in relation to a baseline reading that would be obtained every few weeks with a glucometer or a laboratory blood test to ensure accuracy.

“Our safe, reusable, pain-free device eliminates the need for implanted sensors, patches or devices that use chemical reactions or fluid transfer through the skin,” said Ala Eldin Omer.

What’s next?

Researchers are now exploring commercialization of the technology. This includes developing a wearable device similar to a smartwatch that would be on at all times.

“This finding paves the way for continuous monitoring,” said Shaker. “Given the current pace of progress, I expect the technology to be available in a wearable form within the next couple of years.”

Ali Safavi-Naeini, also an engineering professor at Waterloo, said the science at the heart of the diabetes device potentially has several additional applications.

“Since many ingredients of blood have distinct electromagnetic properties, this technology could be used for other types of blood analysis and medical diagnosis,” he said.

A paper on the project appears online in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research journal.

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