Google Is Developing A Wearable That Draws Blood

Squeamish about drawing blood? Google is developing a smartwatch that will do it for you.

The Mountain View-based company filed a patent for a wearable that will take a tiny sample of blood without using a needle, according to an application first spotted by Science Alert. The smartwatch would likely be aimed at diabetics who need to monitor their blood glucose levels several times a day.

So how does it work?

According to the application, the device sends a surge of gas to a barrel containing a microparticle that can puncture the skin and produce a drop of blood. The drop is drawn into a negative pressure barrel for testing.

The company has not made a public statement about the device, how far along it is in the testing phase or whether it will ever hit the market. The obvious use for the device is to help diabetics avoid the finger-prick test currently used to monitor blood glucose and keep their insulin levels in check.

The new Google device would reduce the pain of testing and could make the testing automatic. The device is one of several the company is working on to help manage the disease. One Google Life Sciences team is developing a smart contact lens that can monitor blood glucose, according to Wired, while another team in the unit is producing disposable glucose monitors the size of a bandage, according to The Verge.

One in three U.S. adults is likely to have diabetes by 2050, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).

Diabetes management is just one of many advances Google hopes to see in the health sector. On Sunday, Google Ventures revealed that it would be investing heavily in health sciences in the future. Health and life sciences made up the largest category of deals for Google Ventures in 2015. The firm invested 31 percent of deployed capital into the sector over the past year, slightly down from 36 percent in 2014.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we invest $200 million to $250 million over the next 12-24 months [into healthcare and life sciences],” Maris told the Wall Street Journal. The firm may invest as much as $1 billion in the sector the next five years.

Source: Silicon Valley Business Journal, Gina Hall
Photo: Google Inc. has filed a patent for a wearable that will take a tiny sample of blood without using a needle. (Tony Avelar, Bloomberg)