The world's eyeballs were glued to Apple's annual product showcase this week, as the company launched its latest and greatest iPhone X and smartwatch coming this Fall. While we're all accustomed to the fanfare, this year was different for people living with diabetes!
For the first time, it seems the iconic device company has finally enabled diabetes data-displaying devices to breakthrough the barriers from just highly engaged and tech-loving PWDs (people with diabetes) to a more mainstream audience.
Yes, we're talking about Apple tech's ability to display Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) data on the smartwatch and also through HealthKit onto iPhones, as well as the latest talk of having diabetes data displayed directly onto next-gen smart-band modules that Apple is apparently creating.
Now more than ever, the general consumer market is getting a chance to see how this technology helps people live better with diabetes.
We've Come a Long Way, Baby
Back in April on the actual 10th anniversary of the very first iPhone launch (aka: WOW!), 'Mine editor AmyT marveled at how much has changed over the past decade since she penned that storied Open Letter to the Steve Jobs -- calling on the gurus of consumer tech design to help make medical devices more Apple-esque.
It seemed -- months ago even -- that we'd sufficiently hit that point already. But following Apple's event on Tuesday, Sept. 12, we can see that we weren't even close. A big Apple Watch ad campaign released that day showed off how prevalent Apple tech and smartwatches have become in our society, and our own D-Community was even recognized in that ad for the world to see!
(see the full 2:38-minute Apple Watch ad below, specifically at the 24-second, 1:30 and 1:49 minute marks)
Whoa, how awesome is that?!
D-Dad Scott Benner in New Jersey, whose daughter Arden lives with T1D and is the inspiration for his blog and Juicebox Podcast, is one of us who thinks this is a very big moment.
"We finally have a device manufacturer in the diabetes world who moved beyond the diabetes world," he writes on his blog. "When Dexcom searched for others whose collaboration might improve their product, they didn't just form a relationship with a little start-up. They formed a relationship with Apple. The mention of Apple Watch integration with Dexcom in this ad... is Apple telling us what is important to them and a signal of where they are focusing their efforts when it comes to the health space. For the moment it's great to hear diabetes in the mainstream in such a positive way, but I think that this is only the beginning of how Dexcom and Apple are going to make us smile."
Totally, Scott. A very awesome development indeed!
- Wireless air charging (!)
- Edge-to-edge touchscreen
- No home button
- Facial recognition (even if it didn't quite work on the big demo day...)
- Front-facing camera, and dual rear cameras
Assuming you can get past the sticker-shock of several hundred dollars for the iPhone 8 and 8-Plus and the whopping $1,000 (!) for the showcase flagship iPhone X... it's really a whole new generation of tech capabilities.
And that's not all.
In August, there was news about an Apple patent weaving in sensors that would measure various health parameters such as blood pressure. That came around the same time Apple was talking about cool smartwatch tech that could beam and display D-data directly onto the band. Of course, that all ties in with past reports that Apple is rumored to be working on non-invasive diabetes technology that would monitor glucose levels without any skin pricks at all. That remains under the "rumor mill" umbrella so we'll have to wait and see, but it certainly sounds a lot less impossible now than once believed.
Meanwhile, new glucose management system provider One Drop has achieved amazing inroads with Apple; theirs is the only diabetes app that allows users to do all their data entry from the watch, and the only D-app that has clinical data showing lowered A1Cs from its use. Thus, they've achieved the honor of being the only diabetes app featured in Apple Watch Series 3 marketing.
Google, Fitbit & Beyond
Beyond the Apple collaboration, Dexcom is actively working with Google/Verily Life Sciences on a next-generation CGM sensor that's reported to be a 'dime-sized bandage' that will stick comfortably to the skin. Think about that for a moment: beyond Apple and the iOS craze (which of course is huge!), there's also a whole other frontier that Dexcom is reaching -- not to mention Google's search engine dominance playing into the promotional and distribution opportunities. Hopefully, we'll see a first-gen version of this by the end of 2018 or thereabouts.
And just recently on Sept. 7, Dexcom announced a partnership with Fitbit on a new smartwatch -- taking over where Pebble left off, after Fitbit bought that competitor and ended the Pebble line last year. The first planned initiative is to bring Dexcom CGM data to the new Fitbit Ionic smartwatch, allowing CGM'ers using either Android or iOS devices to see both activity and glucose levels on their wrist while also using Fitbit's in-app community feature to connect with others to seek support, ask questions and share. That is expected sometime in 2018, and there are certainly more enhancements to follow.
It's very cool to see Dexcom working these relationships to bring diabetes data onto Android platforms, reaching that non-iOS part of the world in both tech offerings and diabetes awareness.
It's hard to get our heads around all the progress we've seen in just under five years, since the birth of the #WeAreNotWaiting movement in 2013. There is no doubt that the patient do-it-yourself spirit and movement has lit a fire under the industry to accelerate their own progress, and even the big legacy Pharma companies are realizing that we live in a new era of Digital Health or Die.
Clearly, access and affordability remain huge stumbling blocks for many in the D-Community to get their hands on all of these new tools. Many PWDs don't currently use a CGM or have the interest or ability to get one, but that may change rapidly as prominent consumer tech companies like Apple, Google and Fitbit get on board.
Meanwhile, the public awareness alone is really remarkable. It's a milestone that everyone can stand up and take notice of, and hopefully appreciate for what it means across the board for improving diabetes care.