Canadian university collaborates with Google to use AI, radars to help diabetes patients

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A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, is developing a new method to detect changes in diabetes patients' glucose levels without the need for an invasive blood draw, the university announced June 28.

Traditionally, diabetes patients must monitor their blood glucose levels by drawing blood via a finger prick several times a day.

To avoid the need for frequent blood draws, the researchers are working with Google and the German hardware company Infineon to use radar and artificial intelligence technologies to detect changes in patients' blood glucose levels. Initial tests with study volunteers at the Research Institute for Aging in Waterloo indicated these technologies were 85 percent as accurate as traditional blood analysis.

The project used a radar device to send high-frequency radio waves into a patient's blood sample and receive radio waves with information about their glucose levels. Researchers proceeded to analyze this information with AI algorithms that detect glucose changes based on 500-plus wave characteristics, such as how long the radio waves take to "bounce back" to the device.

"We want to sense blood inside the body without actually having to sample any fluid," George Shaker, PhD, an adjunct assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo and leader of the research team working on the project, said in the university's June 28 statement.

The researchers plan to continue to refine the system to more precisely quantify glucose levels and validate whether the device can obtain results through a patient's skin. In the future, the researchers hope to deploy the system in a wearable smartwatch to monitor a patient's glucose levels continuously throughout the day.

"I'm hoping we'll see a wearable device on the market within the next five years," Dr. Shaker said. "There are challenges, but the research has been going at a really good rate."

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