Diabetes Device Connects Wirelessly to iPhone

One of the most pleasing Web trends we’re seeing in 2009 is the increasing penetration of web apps into the real world. Web applications for healthcare is one example. We wrote about a new Web-based Radiology Theatre built by IBM yesterday and today we discuss an iPhone app that helps people with diabetes. At yesterday’s iPhone OS 3.0 announcement, diabetes software company LifeScan (owned by Johnson & Johnson) unveiled an iPhone app that wirelessly connects to a Bluetooth-enabled glucose meter.

Once connected – and that may also be done using a wired connection – the blood sugar levels are sent automatically to the iPhone. The app will then help the user calculate the necessary insulin doses based on the readings and their estimated food input.

The app also enables users to email their readings, along with a message, to other people such as your parents or nurse. Plus it has charts and lists – not unlike another iPhone app which this author uses to manage diabetes, called Diamedic.

The new LifeScan iPhone app isn’t the only initiative to use Web technology to improve the lives of people with diabetes. DiabetesMine, a website run by Amy Tenderich, is running a competition for an iPod-like device or web app for diabetes management. According to Tenderich, “21m Americans live with diabetes, yet the devices we rely on generally don’t hold a candle to the sleek design of consumer electronics (think iPod).” The 2009 DiabetesMine Design Challenge is offering a prize of $10,000. It’s sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), with support from global innovation firm IDEO, and by health blog Medgadget.com.

The Internet in Everyday Objects

We’re increasingly seeing the Internet-enabled objects that up till now have been offline experiences. Earlier today we described how a UK company, partnering with Penguin, built 6 web-based book applications – including one that used Google Maps for a ‘flyover’ experience of storytelling, a Twitter book, and one where real time user keystrokes were tracked as part of the story. The creator of those, Dan Hon, told us that he was excited to see Bluetooth connectivity enabling a vastly improved interface for glucose monitors. He said that developments like this could be the stepping stones toward a future of ubiquitous computing – we’re inclined to agree.

The next step of LifeScan’s Internet-connected glucose monitor might be to have all that iPhone functionality in the glucose monitor itself, doing away with the need for the iPhone. Right now the cost of that would be prohibitive, but we can imagine a time in the near future when touch screen UIs and Internet connectivity in everyday devices will be commonplace and inexpensive.

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