Apple Watch Upgrade May Offer Blood Sugar & Blood Pressure Checks

New revelation hints at smarter wearables that could monitor more key health metrics via infrared sensors.

May 18, 2021
Apple Watch Upgrade May Offer Blood Sugar & Blood Pressure Checks | New revelation hints at smarter wearables that could monitor more key health metrics via infrared sensors.

Tech trendsetter, Apple, may be working on a smarter smartwatch with a new menu of health sensors that tell you when your blood sugar levels or blood pressure are too high and even when you’ve had too much to drink. And it could obtain these health metrics, usually only available through blood samples and specialized medical equipment, via non-invasive infrared light instead.

This new technology, developed by UK medical startup, Rockley Photonics, has sensors that can beam infrared light through the skin to take readings of blood-related health metrics leading to actionable health insights.

The healthcare and wellbeing section of Its website describes its “revolutionary range of [miniature] sensing chipsets and modules [offering] unparalleled real-time analytical performance, truly bringing clinical testing capabilities to hand-held and wearable devices.”

Apple has not confirmed that it plans to feature this new Rockley technology in its smartwatch range. But journalist James Titcomb, writing in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, as reported on tom’s guide, reveals that it may be. The iPhone maker is the largest customer of this startup developing “clinic-on-the-wrist” sensors.

Rockley Photonics is set to go public as a company, and its link with Apple is evident in its listing documents detailing its sources of revenue. In this filing, it referred to Apple, with whom it has an ongoing supply and development contract, as its biggest customer of the last two years.

This convenient and non-invasive monitoring technology may hold huge promise for diabetics, with an estimated 436 million people living with this condition worldwide, as hitechglitz reports. People with prediabetes, weight issues and those looking to eat healthy who also need or want to closely monitor blood glucose levels, would also stand to gain. This technology is so significant as non-invasive glucose sensing is a functionality that has so far remained just out of reach, including for wearables manufacturers.

Meanwhile, tracking blood pressure in tandem with advice from a doctor can people spot early signs of heart disease.

Rockley’s CEO, Andrew Rickman, is reported as saying that he anticipates that these sensors could be featured in consumer technology as early as 2022, while also not revealing if this would be in an Apple product.

Rickman remains a keen ambassador for digital health tech: “ There is tremendous need for technologies that can enable effective digital health and wellness, driven by the associated benefit provided to population health,' he said in February, as quoted in the Daily Mail newspaper.

If Apple does incorporate Rockley’s innovation, which would be a gamechanger for its  health monitoring capabilities, this would not be Apple’s first foray into incorporating smart health tech into its wearables. Sensors in the Apple Watch 6, launched in 2020, already use infrared to read blood metrics such as oxygen levels and to check heart rhythm and heart rate for the benefit of its customers.

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.