Apple Watch could add blood glucose, alcohol monitoring features by next year

Apple may be exploring advanced technology for its smartwatch that could allow it to track blood glucose and alcohol levels, as well as give blood pressure readings, according to details disclosed by one of the company's suppliers in a recent US Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The UK electronics start-up Rockley Photonics, which has developed a silicon photonics platform that can monitor a person's blood using infrared light, suggests in the filing that the next-generation sensors needed for those new health monitoring features could be incorporated into the Apple Watch as soon as 2022.

First reported in The Telegraph, the SEC document details Rockley's financial relationships as it goes through the process of becoming a publicly traded company. In the filing, Rockley revealed that Apple is its "largest customer," and that it has an ongoing "master supply and development agreement" with the tech giant, which it anticipates to continue to rely on for a "significant portion of its revenue for the foreseeable future."

Rockley's photonics platform is designed for the "optical integration challenges facing numerous mega-trend markets," the company says in the SEC document. It added that its focus over the next two years will be on "developing and commercialising our products for incorporation in consumer wearables and mobile applications, followed by medical devices in the healthcare space, and subsequently on developing our AI (artificial intelligence) analytics cloud platform."

Recent SPAC deal

In March, Rockley announced a deal to go public via a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) SC Health. The start-up's so-called "clinic-on-the-wrist" technology enables continuous, non-invasive monitoring of biomarkers including lactate, glucose, hydration, blood pressure and core body temperature.

Meanwhile, Apple introduced its Apple Watch Series 6 in September featuring a blood-oxygen sensor capable of taking real-time readings in 15 seconds. It was reported earlier this year that the company's upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 could include a blood-glucose monitor as well. The report cited a patent application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office stating that Apple could use absorption spectroscopy to obtain non-invasive glucose readings.

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