Tim Cook Spotted Testing Breakthrough Apple Watch With Blood Glucose Monitor

Apple is already winning the wearables war, but it is the next version of the company's Apple Watch that could end up a real game changer. Tim Cook, the man in charge, was seen at the Apple campus in Cupertino, California wearing a prototype blood glucose monitor connected to an Apple Watch. If such a thing could make the leap from prototype to retail hardware, it would be a boon millions of people who battle diabetes.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes. And in 2012, it was estimated that 86 million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes, versus 79 million in 2010. Diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2010. It is a non-discriminatory disease that affects people of all ethnic backgrounds, so it easy to see why an Apple Watch that could monitor blood sugar levels on a continuous basis would be a big deal.

Apple Watch

This seems to be an eventuality. Even before news of the prototype device broke, it was reported that Apple had assembled a team in Palo Alto tasked with developing a method for non-invasive and continuous glucose monitoring. Apple considers this the "holy grail" for diabetes, and millions who are afflicted with the disease would agree.

Currently there are two main ways of monitoring blood sugar levels. One is to prick your finger to draw blood that is placed on a test strip and inserted into a glucose meter, and the other is with a continuous blood glucose monitor (CGM). Medtronic, one of the leading manufacturers of CGM machines, recommends calibrating them with 3-4 finger pricks per day.

It is not clear if Apple's system would also need calibrating, and if it does, how often. However, with the company's focus on non-invasive blood sugar monitoring, it's possible the company has developed a sensor that achieves the same thing without drawing blood.

Apple Watch and iPhone

We also do not know how close Apple might be to releasing such a thing, though there are reasons to believe the company is getting close. In addition to spotting a prototype, CooK in February talked about the device to students at the University of Glasgow. While short on specifics, he did mention that had been "wearing a continuous glucose monitor for a few weeks," adding that he "just took it off before coming on this trip."

Cook went on to explain that wearing the GCM allowed him to have a better understanding of how certain foods affected his blood sugar, which in turn helped him modify his eating habits to keep his blood sugar at a more constant level.

"It's mentally anguishing to stick yourself many times a day to check your blood sugar," Cook said. "There is lots of hope out there that if someone has constant knowledge of what they're eating, they can instantly know what causes the response... and that they can adjust well before they become diabetic."

Whereas GPS and waterproofing were the big upgrades to the Apple Watch Series 2, blood glucose monitoring could obviously be the most important feature of the Series 3.