New blood glucose monitor replaces finger pricks with microwaves

The future holds a lot of promise for diabetics, not the least of which is because of the more advanced glucose monitors researchers have been creating. There's the Patch monitor, a band-like wearable that sticks on the skin to keep track of sugar levels. Similar but suitably different is a new contraption created by researchers at Cardiff University's School of Engineering — a small device that attaches to the skin and uses microwaves instead of finger pricks to check sugar levels.

Traditional blood glucose monitors feature a meter and a strip upon which one must place a drop of blood. That drop of blood is acquired using a pricking device that quickly jabs a hole in one's finger — a somewhat painful, mostly inconvenient process that can be especially difficult when it comes to children.

The researchers' newly created device is different, not requiring any blood to get its reading. The device, shown attached to the arm in the image above, can be fixed onto the skin using adhesive where it chills out, unobtrusive and pain-free. Blood glucose levels are monitored using microwaves, and because it's attached, the monitoring can take place continuously.

The microwave levels the device emits are described as being "very, very low" by researcher and professor Adrian Porch. They're "nowhere near the levels used in domestic cooking. Think about a mobile phone, we're about a thousand times less than that level," he said. So far, the device has been used in trials with approximately 50 patients, and plans for more trials are already in the pipeline.