Reusable glucose meter paired with smartphone for on-the-go monitoring

Science Highlights
April 19, 2018
Raymond A. MacDougall

Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), with funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), have designed a glucose meter system built into a smartphone case, along with a smartphone app to present the results. The researchers developed the new device, called GlucPhone, with convenience and portability in mind.

smartphone with glucose monitor
Researchers are developing a smartphone case with built in glucose monitoring system. Results are displayed on a customized smartphone app. Credit: David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

People with diabetes must carefully monitor the level of glucose in their blood, usually with a finger prick and test strip procedure. The typical testing kit is an extra item to carry along, so the GlucPhone would eliminate carrying the kit, presuming the user carries a smartphone. The finger-prick process would still be required, as well as an easy-to-learn testing procedure.

The UCSD team is led by Patrick Mercier, a professor in electrical and computer engineering, and Joseph Wang, a professor in nanoengineering. In a study in the March 15, 2018, issue of Biosensors and Bioelectronics, they demonstrated the reusable system. It includes an electrode visible through an opening at the corner of a modified case, onto which the user deposits a magnetized pellet containing the enzyme glucoseoxidase, which reacts with glucose. A drop of the user’s blood interacts with the enzyme in the pellet to generate an electrical signal. In about 20 seconds the smartphone app displays the result. One pellet is used per test and 30 pellets fit in a stylus-shaped dispenser.

The researchers also developed an app for Android devices that displays the glucose level generated by the test. For the current study, the researchers tested the system with various concentrations of glucose in liquid and found the results to be reproducible. The researchers will perform improvements to the system’s sensor performance and future testing will be performed with blood samples.

“The real convenience of the device is that everything is integrated into the phone, so you don't have to carry around an additional tester,” said Mercier. “In addition, since the generated results are displayed and logged directly to your phone, we can leverage phone- or cloud-based storage to help monitor and process measured data to help improve care.”

This work was supported in part by NIBIB (EB019698).

Re-usable electrochemical glucose sensors integrated into a smartphone platform. Bandodkar AJ, Imani S, Nunez-Florez R, Kumar R, Wang C, Mohan AMV, Wang J, Mercier PP. Biosensors and Bioelectronics. Oct. 13, 2017.