Apple, Samsung, Google trying to turn wearables into must-haves

Jun 23 2014, 11:30 IST
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Tech companies are searching for applications that could turn wearables from curiosities into must-have items. Tech companies are searching for applications that could turn wearables from curiosities into must-have items.
SummaryWorld's largest mobile technology firms have all set their sites on monitoring blood sugar.

was one of the best days of my career. We started getting a ton of emails," Palikaras said.

Samsung was among the first tech companies to produce a smartwatch, which failed to catch on widely. It since has introduced a platform for mobile health, called Simband, which could be used on smart wrist bands and other mobile devices.

Samsung is looking for partners and will allow developers to try out different sensors and software. One Samsung employee, who declined to be named, said the company expects to foster noninvasive glucose monitoring.

Sources said Samsung is working with startups to implement a “traffic light” system in future Galaxy Gear smartwatches that flashes blood-sugar warnings.

Samsung Ventures has made a number of investments in the field, including in Glooko, a startup that helps physicians access their patients' glucose readings, and in an Israeli glucose monitoring startup through its $50 million Digital Health Fund.

Ted Driscoll, a health investor with Claremont Creek Ventures, told Reuters he's heard pitches from potentially promising glucose monitoring startups, over a dozen in recent memory.

Software developers say they hope to incorporate blood glucose data into health apps, which is of particular interest to athletes and health-conscious users.

"We're paying close attention to research around how sugar impacts weight loss," said Mike Lee, cofounder of MyFitnessPal.

After decades of false starts, many medical scientists are confident about a breakthrough on glucose monitoring. Processing power allows quick testing of complex ideas, and the miniaturization of sensors, the low cost of electronics, and the rapid proliferation of mobile devices have given rise to new opportunities.

One optimist is Jay Subhash, a recently-departed senior product manager for Samsung Electronics. "I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it one of these days," he said.

DU Strike a defiant note

For decades, medical technology firms have searched for ways to let diabetics check blood sugar easily, with scant success. Now, the world's largest mobile technology firms are getting in on the act.

Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co and Google Inc, searching for applications that could turn nascent wearable technology like smartwatches and bracelets from curiosities into must-have items, have all set their sites on monitoring blood sugar, several people familiar with the plans say.

These firms are variously hiring medical scientists and engineers, asking U.S. regulators about oversight and developing glucose-measuring features in future wearable devices, the sources said.

The first round of technology may be limited, but eventually the companies could

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