Biosensing is the main component of the future personal area network.
The Apple Watch is the most widely known biosensing device. The latest version (Series 6, released September 2020) sparkles with features that lean perpetually towards health including a class II FDA clearance for electrocardiogram for atrial fibrillation (AFib) detection and wellness-grade daily blood oxygen sensing capacity.
Synex Medical, founded two years ago by 19-year-old Ben Nashman, offers more than a sparkle when it comes to creating “hard” medical data – the kind that can help impact population-level disease states with a tiny lab that can fit into the size of a ring or similar form factor, according to Mr. Nashman. The biosensing device can non-invasively measure critical metabolites like glucose, lactate, and ketones in real-time.
The company’s approach uses magnetic resonance, the same underlying principle as in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in a miniaturized system. According to the (pending) patent, the device employs nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology i.e. emits radiofrequency (RF) pulses, and receives resulting NMR signals to determine (or to facilitate the determination of) the concentration of an analyte (such as glucose, cholesterol, a vitamin, alcohol, a mineral, or a drug) in the blood of a wearer.
In the early days of Mr. Nashman’s experiments, he designed and built a basic MRI machine at home. He soon discovered a connection between the physics of MRIs and the fundamental exploratory nature of spectroscopy. The features contained in the device currently under development appear to fit perfectly with mammalian biology at a molecular level.
Raw data is not enough for Mr. Nashman. The company plans to use advanced machine learning and signal processing techniques to make predictive healthcare the norm the in fast-growing wearables space. Other areas of potential biosensor use will include companion therapy (home use, physician-monitored) and companion diagnostics that require precise, real-time metabolic measures.
Reports have claimed that the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 will be able to monitor glucose/blood sugar levels without the need of a blood draw. In recent days, Apple filed, “Terahertz Spectroscopy and Imaging in Dynamic Environments with Performance Enhancements Using Ambient Sensors,” in new patent application, with the other three being related variations of it. The patent does not mention blood glucose specifically, instead relying on a generalization, “concentration levels of chemicals or quality of a transmission medium or ambience in a dynamic environment.”