Apple is reportedly working on a groundbreaking smartwatch feature – so top-secret it has been given its own code name – that could revolutionise health care.
According to Bloomberg, the tech juggernaut is hoping to eventually launch a feature within the Apple Watch that would allow a wearer’s blood glucose levels to be monitored without needing to collect invasive blood samples.
The feature – known internally as E5 – would be a gamechanger for millions of diabetics, and could see Apple muscle in on the lucrative health sector.
Citing sources close to the project, Bloomberg acknowledged that while the technology was likely still years away, a number of positive recent developments have left insiders confident of success.
So how would it all work?
According to an in-depth explanation from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is developing the feature using a specific chip technology, as well as a measurement process known as optical absorption spectroscopy.
It works by sending out lasers of light below the skin where there is a fluid that can be absorbed by glucose, meaning the concentration of glucose in the body can be detected.
A team of hundreds are reportedly working on the tech under Apple’s Exploratory Design Group, or XDG – “one of the most covert initiatives at the famously secretive Apple”, Mr Gurman writes.
The project has been running for 12 years and has already been tested on people, including those with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
The results have been compared to existing glucose monitoring measures, such as finger prick tests and regular blood tests, and is “considered to be at a proof-of-concept stage”.
If the feature does get rolled out, it would make life easier for millions of diabetics around the world who currently have to submit to regular blood testing to track their glucose levels.
And it also has the potential to help those at risk of later developing Type 2 diabetes by alerting them to the danger and allowing them to make lifestyle changes before it’s too late.
Mr Gurman also explained that the project – which has already had millions upon millions invested in it – was “cloaked in even more secrecy” before becoming [art of the XDG team, previously operating as its own company under the name Avolonte Health LLC which had no obvious connection to Apple and was located around 20km away from Apple HQ.
Apple shares were up slightly after news of the potential development broke, while shares of several diabetes technology companies fell in response.
The news comes amid a turbulent period for the iPhone maker, which was massively impacted by China’s zero-Covid policy.
Last month, Apple shares plunged by more than 4 per cent in one day, with Apple going into 2023 with a market value below $US2 trillion ($A2.9 trillion) for the first time since early 2021.
It means the company saw a staggering $US1 trillion ($A1.45 trillion) wiped out in just one year, joining Amazon which became the first public company to ever lose more than $US1 trillion ($A1.45 trillion) in value in November 2022.
The dramatic share price plunge came after a report from Nikkei Asia sparked concerns about demand for Apple items.
Recently, investors have also been worried about Apple’s capacity to keep up with demand for some items after China’s Covid lockdowns and policy uncertainty wreaked havoc with production and supply chains.
And earlier this month, Apple boss Tim Cook made headlines after dropping a major clue that already notoriously expensive iPhones will soon get even pricier.
Speaking at a recent earnings call, the CEO told listeners that fans are desperate to get their hands on the best-selling item – and are willing to pay top dollar to pick up the best model they possibly can.
After being questioned about the rising cost of iPhones, and whether endless increases were sustainable, Mr Cook replied by saying the technology had become an essential part of users’ day-to-day lives.
“The iPhone has become so integral into people’s lives,” he said.
“I think people are willing to really stretch to get the best they can afford in that category.”