Internet giants are busy spinning plans for wearables ahead of Google's developer conference in San Francisco, CA, this week. But it's not quite clear yet what medical applications these new devices will have and how they will be regulated. FDA did release final guidelines on how it will regulate medical apps last fall, which is likely helping to stimulate the push forward on wearables now.
|Google's Android Wear|
Earlier this year, Google ($GOOG) introduced an operating system for wearable tech, Android Wear. Samsung is expected to unveil a smartwatch using the system at the Google conference, making it the third Android smartwatch to come out, after those from LG and Motorola.
In its latest move, Google unveiled its smart contact lens to track glucose levels. The company said on its blog that it is in discussions with FDA and is seeking partners to who can help it get to market and develop apps. Traditional medical device companies have been on the sidelines as the furor over wearable health and medical-focused devices has been unfolding. Perhaps their regulatory, marketing and product development expertise would be a good fit with all the Internet companies trying to rush to market.
Rumors detailing Apple's iWatch, which is anticipated in the fall, suggest a big focus on health for the highly anticipated device. The Wall Street Journal reports that an Apple smartwatch, already dubbed the iWatch by the media, will have more than 10 sensors to track health and fitness data and that manufacturing is expected to start in a few months with a debut likely in October.
When it comes to medical applications for these wearables, blood glucose monitoring is at the top of the list, reports Reuters. Diabetics still must regularly prick their fingers multiple times daily to check their glucose levels. And while alternatives ranging from tiny implants to tear analysis have been in play for a while, noninvasive glucose monitoring technologies would be a perfect complement to wearable devices that could track and analyze their data.
In addition to Google's contact lens, noninvasive blood glucose measurement could employ technology like electricity or ultrasound or a spectroscope examination of the skin.
"All the biggies want glucose on their phone," John Smith, former chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson's LifeScan which makes blood glucose monitoring supplies, told Reuters. "Get it right, and there's an enormous payoff."