Non-invasive glucose monitoring is considered to be the holy grail of diabetes treatment. For the most part diabetes patients have no accurate alternatives to tracking glucose by piercing the skin. There is no shortage of companies working on a solution, but we have yet to see someone come up with a product that could be sold to the masses.
There is, however, a middle of the road answer. Smart glucometres take readings like you’re used to with a traditional glucometre, but with a digital twist. They add the convenience of automatically interpreting your readings and logging them to an accompanying smartphone app.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Accuracy of glucose meters is, of course, a common topic of concern. An automatic log is no good if it keeps tabs on inaccurate measurements. Commenting on the accuracy of readings is beyond the scope of this article, but blood glucose meters must meet accuracy standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
While we are waiting for a truly non-invasive device this to reach the consumer market, you may want to try one of these options.
iHealth has two smart glucometres in its range. Both use the same type of strips and the exact same lancing device. Align is the less expensive of the two and works in conjunction with your smartphone or tablet via the headphone jack.
You need three items to test your blood sugar level: the main unit, the lancing device, and test strips.
To start off, insert the test strip into the strip port with the contact bars facing toward you. The top end of the lancing device comes off to load a lancet while the opposite end twists to prime the lancer. Prepare the lancing device by adjusting the lancing level and cocking the handle until it clicks. You then need to use the lancing device to obtain a blood sample.
The results are automatically uploaded to your smartphone app which logs the time and tags the reading automatically (before/after breakfast/lunch etc…). You can edit the automated info about each test if it is incorrect. You can also enter other information such as medications, activities, record an audio note and more.
A lot of effort has clearly been put into designing the app. In our testing, we found that this was perhaps the best part of the system. The software keeps all your readings in one place, colour codes everything showing if you are in a low, normal, high or very high range. It also keeps tabs on your highest and lowest reading and has further charts which separate your results depending on meal-times.
iHealth Smart is Align’s big brother – a wireless version that transmits your readings over-the-air to the cloud. This surprisingly affordable device comes with a Gluco-monitor, lancing unit, ten lancets, a clear cap, USB charging cable, travel case and instruction booklets. The oval shaped measuring unit is Bluetooth enabled so apart from the charging cable, there are no wires and you don’t need to plug it into your smartphone.
Apart from over-the-air communication, the process of taking measurements is largely similar for both iHealth glucometres. If you are using Smart and are in Bluetooth range, the iHealth app walks you through the test process of taking your reading and automatically logs your results. If you don’t have the mobile device with you, you can sync later on as Smart stores up to 500 test readings on its internal memory.
iBGStar connects to your iPhone or iPod touch making it easier to view and share blood glucose readings. It helps you manage your diabetes and your insulin on the go.
The device comes with an accompanying smartphone app which presents your values in a simple way. Similar to iHealth Align, the glucometre plugs into the headphone jack of your smartphone. Simply insert a test strip and directly get your blood glucose reading in a couple of seconds.
If you have left your smartphone behind, you need not worry. The device stores the last 300 test results, including the date and time (if enabled) with each of your reading.
Weighing only 9 grams, iBGStar is compact and lightweight. It is also the proud winner of a number of design awards including the Red Dot design award for outstanding product design and the prestigious Good Design Award.
The OneTouch Verio Sync Blood Glucose Monitoring System comes from a company called LifeScan. Just like iHealth Smart, this is a device that sends results wirelessly to the app using Bluetooth. One Touch has been designed to work specifically with the iPod touch, iPhone or iPad.
Like other glucometres on this page, the system is intended to be used by a single person so should not be shared. Glucose in the blood sample mixes with the enzyme FAD-GDH in the test strip and a small electric current is produced. The meter calculates your blood glucose level based on the strength of the current.
The OneTouch Verio Sync meter stores up to 500 test results but only your last result can be displayed. To view results for up to 365 days, sync the meter with the smartphone app which will graph your results and help identify patterns. You can also download your results to a computer to review.
The Dario Blood Glucose Monitoring System is another gadget created to make life easier for people with diabetes. This is a pocket-sized, smartphone-based monitoring system, featuring an innovative all in one storage solution that includes a meter and space to put a cartridge of test strips. No more heavy pouches, all you need is your pocket!
The device is slightly different from other glucometres featured on this page, in that it comes with its own built-in lancing device. The detachable measuring unit plugs into your smartphone jack to automatically transfer your readings to the iOS Dario app. Here you can easily track, monitor and manage diabetes with a simple to use mobile app.
Dexcom is the only FDA approved glucose monitoring system that works around the clock without pricking the finger. It provides real-time, dynamic glucose information every five minutes — up to 288 readings in a 24-hour period.
There are three parts to the system: a small sensor that measures glucose levels just underneath the skin; a transmitter that fits onto the sensor and sends data wirelessly to your display device; and a small receiver or compatible smart device that displays real-time glucose information.
Your glucose levels are shown in vivid colors so you can easily see in what direction your glucose is trending. This will provide you with valuable insight to proactively managing your diabetes.
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