Diabetes affects almost 400 million people worldwide, and complications due to diabetes – blindness, cardiovascular disease, and kidney problems – can be reduced by regular monitoring of blood glucose. The usual way of measuring blood glucose is with a pin prick of blood and a small test strip that costs about $0.30. That’s a lot of test strips and blood used by 400 million diabetics every day. Wouldn’t it be better if there was a less invasive way of measuring blood glucose?
[marcelclaro]’s project for The Hackaday Prize aims to do just that. Instead of measuring blood directly, his project will measure blood glucose by shining light through a finger or an earlobe. Using light to detect blood glucose is something that has been studied in the lab, but so far, there aren’t any products on the market that use this technique.
There are two major problems [marcel] needs to overcome to turn this project into reality. The first is simply raw data for calibration. For [marcel], this is easy; he has Type 1 diabetes, and takes four glucose measurements a day. Patient heal thyself, or something.
The second problem is getting a photosensor that’s sensitive enough. By using an InGaAs PIN diode, a current-controlled oscillator, and a digital counter, [marcel] should have a sensor that’s good enough, with electronics that are cheap enough, to create some tech that is truly game changing for a few hundred million people around the world.
[John] is the parent of a diabetic child, and his efforts to expand the communication options for his son’s CGM (continuous glucose monitor) have grown into a larger movement: #wearenotwaiting.
After receiving a new monitor—a Dexcom G4—[John] set about decoding its communication protocols. The first steps were relatively simple, using a laptop to snag the data from the CGM and storing it on a Google doc which he could access as the day went along. The next step involved connecting the monitor and a cellphone for around-the-clock data gathering. [John] managed to develop an Android app to accomplish just that, and shortly after people began to take notice. Both [Howard Look], the CEO of Tidepool, and [Lane Desborough], engineer and father of a child with diabetes, have thrown in their support, leading to further developments such as Nightscout, an open source solution for storing CGM data in the cloud.
This project is a victory not only for those with diabetes, but also for the open source community. [John] admits his initial hesitation for developing for the medical device platform: litigation from a corporation could cause devastation for him and his family despite his intentions to merely improve his son’s and others’ quality of life. Those fears have mostly subsided, however, because the project now belongs to both no one and to everyone. It’s community-owned through an open source repository. Check out the overview of [John’s] work for more pictures and links to different parts of the #wearenotwaiting community.
[Don] uses a Continuous Glucose Monitor to stay on top of his diabetes. It means carrying around an expensive and fragile device which acts as the readout. He’s an active guy and doesn’t want to destroy the thing while dirt biking or kick boxing so he’s been trying to use a TI Chronos smart watch as a display alternative.
As you can see he has already made some headway. This image shows the watch displaying data from the device. Unfortunately he’s depending on a PC to interface with the CGM display, then pushing it to the watch. He may try moving to a Raspberry Pi to help make this more mobile. This way the sensitive hardware could be tucked safely in a case inside a backpack while the watch shows his current glucose levels. We’d also love to see an embedded solution that would emulate the communications the PC is using to harvest the data. If you’ve got any suggestions in this area we’re sure that [Don] would appreciate the help.