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Smart tech earring is CGM game-changer

The Sense Glucose Earring uses smart CGM to transform the way patients manage type 1 diabetes.

Tyra Kozlow, a 22-year-old product design graduate from the University of Huddersfield defeated thousands of entries from around the world to become a finalist at 2020 Global Grad Show with her design for a discreet earring that monitors blood sugar levels and delivers feedback in real-time.

Longevity.Technology: Type 1 diabetes is a life limiting disease, with sufferers having a life expectancy reduced by over 20 years [1]. Research, public awareness and improved therapy have all played a role in significantly improving outcomes for diabetes sufferers, but the constant monitoring remains draining. This new device is a discreet and practical way to monitor blood glucose with an app that could provide future IOT application, feeding into precision therapy and intervention, and of course, wearables are the new black.

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is popular with biohackers, who use it to monitor how lifestyle and and diet affects their bodies; CGM has featured in Time and the Wall Street Journal, and earlier this year, Abbott announced that its latest version of its FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring device had received a CE mark and would be made available in “the coming months”. Dexcom is also preparing to roll out its updated version of its CGM, the G7, which boasts a smaller sensor than previous versions.

As CGMs move from the realms of elite biohacking into the mainstream, we are sure that the appeal of a wearable earring monitor that provides app notifications won’t be lost on Longevity community. Intentionally modulating glucose levels could assist with bringing about cell regeneration through calorie restriction.

The Sense Glucose Earring requires a single lobe piercing which incorporates safe high-frequency radio-waves that penetrate through the lobe and provides data on the characteristics of the blood. Unlike other glucose monitors on the market, the Sense Glucose Earring does not require constant blood samples and uses rechargeable batteries, so it reduces the amount of medical and plastic waste produced.

Sense Glucose Earring. Source: University of Huddersfield

Once the blood has been monitored, Sense connects with an app to alert the user about their current levels of blood sugar and sends them notifications. The app can share data, analyse trends and generally helps the user to manage their condition.

The inspiration to design a piece of wearable technology, for diabetics to be able to control their condition more discreetly, came after Tyra chaired a focus group with parents whose children had the condition and who avoided diabetes management in social situations due to a perceived stigma.

 


 

“By making the monitoring process as easy as say, measuring your heart rate on a Smartwatch, I hope this will lessen the stigma, so it becomes much more a part of everyday life,”

 


 

Ideal diabetes management is based on finding the perfect balance of medication to keep a patient’s blood sugar in the perfect range: if their blood sugar is too high, there are significant risks of vascular complications, such as vision problems and kidney disease; if their blood sugar is too low, it can lead to morbid outcomes, including fainting, seizures, or even death. According to diabetes.co.uk, 6 out of 7 teenagers struggle to get their long-term blood sugar control within the target range, which is an HbA1c value below 7.5%.

Tyra Kozlow. product design graduate from the University of Huddersfield. Source: University of Huddersfield

“Even though type 1 diabetes is not the fault of the person affected by it and is not related to any behaviour patterns or choices,” said Tyra, “young people diagnosed with the condition do experience a distressing level of stigma and can be twice as likely to have poor glycaemic control which can lead to further health problems.”

Poorly-managed type 1 diabetes can lead to long-term complications and poor outcomes, including heart disease, stroke, eye and kidney disease. The Sense Glucose Earring should help sufferers form good management habits early, reducing the impact of diabetes on the body’s organs and increasing both lifespan and healthspan.

Tyra is confident that the product will have a positive impact on a younger generation of type 1 diabetics. “I hope Sense will help teenagers feel more in control of their diabetes and that they will feel more encouraged to manage their condition around their friends because it’s a piece of Smart technology they will be using,” she commented.

“By making the monitoring process as easy as say, measuring your heart rate on a Smartwatch, I hope this will lessen the stigma, so it becomes much more a part of everyday life,” she added.

[1] https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-life-expectancy.html

Images courtesy of the University of Huddersfield
Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.
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