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Tech giant Apple is working on a device for diabetes sufferers

Rod Chester, June 4, 2017 5:50PM News Corp Australia

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APPLE’S next big thing could be great news for the 1.75 million Australians with diabetes, with a device that would revolutionise* management of the chronic* illness.

Diabetes is a disease that results in too much sugar in the blood, causing other health issues. There are multiple forms of the disease including Type 1 and Type 2.

Apple is famous for being obsessively* secretive about products in development but the tech giant’s chief executive Tim Cook started rumours recently when he announced he was wearing a prototype* that could measure his blood sugar level without the need to prick his finger.

Currently, people with the disease test their blood sugar levels by pricking a tiny hole into their finger and testing a drop of blood in a small, portable machine.

Tim Cook at Apple’s headquarters. Picture: Getty Images media_cameraTim Cook at Apple’s headquarters. Picture: Getty Images

Fourteen-year-old Brisbane student Prahlad Wulf, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age eight, has to prick his finger up to six times a day.

He said a device that saved him having to do this would be a benefit.

“How do I put it? It would really save my life, that’s one,” he said.

“It would be great for me, I would love it.”

While nothing has been confirmed, Apple could unveil* the product as early as this week at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, the biggest event on Apple’s calendar.

Prahlad Wulf with his phone. Picture: Sarah Marshall media_cameraPrahlad Wulf with his phone. Picture: Sarah Marshall

In previous years the Developers Conference has seen the announcement of the iPhone and iPad.

Little is known about the device but it is thought to use optical* sensors that shine a light through the skin to measure glucose.

Apple is not the only company looking to develop diabetes technology.

Three years ago Google unveiled a prototype* contact lens that could test for sugar levels, but Google has not released the product yet to the public.

Google’s contact lens to test glucose levels. Picture: Google media_cameraGoogle’s contact lens to test glucose levels. Picture: Google

Brisbane-based medical firm Glucotek Inc has also developed smart earrings that work as non-invasive blood glucose monitors. The company is currently working on a prototype.

Diabetes Australia consumer manager Renza Scibilia, who has Type 1 diabetes, warns that while new technology was welcome, it was good to remain cautious.

Ms Scibilia said until a device was approved by the US Federal Drug Agency and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Agency for accuracy, it would have to be considered in line with activity trackers which may not be an accurate reading.

A doctor measuring a girl’s blood sugar level. Picture: iStock media_cameraA doctor measuring a girl’s blood sugar level. Picture: iStock

“We are making dosing decisions (of insulin) based on the data that our devices give us,” she said.

GLOSSARY

revolutionise: change everything

chronic: persisting

obsessively: very

unveil: reveal

prototype: product early in its development

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

Activity 1. New device for diabetics!

Read the article carefully then answers these questions.

What is Apple rumoured to be about to unveil at the Worldwide Developers Conference?

How is it likely to work?

Why is Prahlad Wulf excited about this device being introduced? How does he manage his diabetes now?

Prahlad Wulf, tests his blood up to 6 times a day. How many is that per year?

He was diagnosed at 8 and is now 14. How many finger pricks would that be in total? (Assume he was diagnosed on his 8th birthday and he is now exactly 14)

Why is Renza Scibilia cautious about this new device?

If you were in her position would you feel the same way?

Why is having it approved by the US Federal Drug Agency and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Agency important?

Extension: Design this device

What do you think this device would look like?

Draw a diagram of your prediction, detailing where it would be worn and how it might work.

Come up with a name for this product.

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Science, Design and Technologies, Mathematics

Activity 2. Diabetes

What is diabetes?

The article describes it as “a disease that results in too much sugar in the blood, causing other health issues. There are multiple forms of the disease including Type 1 and Type 2.”

Research some more information about diabetes. Use this information to create a poster that explains what diabetes is.

Try and find answers to the following questions.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Can diabetes be prevented?

What is insulin? Where is it made?

How do people manage their diabetes so they can still live a healthy life?

Include any other relevant and interesting information.

Extension: Advantages

Write a list of advantages of this new device for diabetics.

Are there any disadvantages?

Time: allow 60 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Science, Design and Technologies

VCOP ACTIVITY

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation)

Rapid Rhyming

Choose 10 words from the article. Then your challenge is to create 5-10 words that rhyme with that word. Can you find any good WOW words?

Eg: WATER = daughter, slaughter

Extension: Many songs we hear today contain words that rhyme. Can you use any of the words you’ve found to crate the first verse to a new song?

Time: allow approxomately 15 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP

Activity provided by Andrell Education, www.andrelleducation.com.au

EXTRA RESOURCES

3D IMAGERY TO TRANSFORM SURGERY

CODING A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

UNLOCK IPHONE 8 WITH YOUR FACE

POTENTIAL PILL TO FIGHT SUPERBUGS

GADGETS GO FURTHER THAN YOU

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