Google Files Patent For ‘Needle-Free Blood Draw’ System – Could Your Next Smartwatch Also Conduct Blood Sugar Tests?

Alap Naik Desai

Google has filed a patent for a "needle-free blood draw" system. The patent could see its application in future smartwatches.

Google has patented a needle-free blood draw system, which would certainly be good news for diabetes patients that require regular blood tests to ensure the glucose level in the blood is within limits. The system, if implemented, could end the painful prick. The system uses a barrel that sucks blood using a negative pressure system.

The patent reads as follows.

"A system for needle-free drawing of blood is disclosed.A device can include an evacuated negative-pressure barrel with a membrane sealing an aperture at a distal end, and housing affixed to a proximal end. An accelerator barrel can be positioned within the negative-pressure barrel and fixed to the housing, with an open proximal end in a chamber in the housing, and an open distal end aligned with the aperture."

The patent, which was published December 3, describes the device as using "an abrupt surge of gas" to give a micro-particle enough momentum to pierce a person's skin. Then, a "micro-emergence of blood" is drawn into a barrel, reported Digital Trends.

Essentially, the inner chamber of the device is filled with pressurized gas and a micro-particle. This particle, positioned within the accelerator barrel, will serve as a projectile that will be accelerated to high speed using a precision-controlled short burst of pressurized gas. The micro-particle would then surge forward and pierce the skin. The drawn blood, which would be in much less quantity than traditional blood tests, would then be sucked into the device owing to the negative pressure in the barrel.

As evident from the illustrations, there are two possible iterations for the needle-free blood draw system. The first one looks like a regular testing device that has been used for decades. The drawing shows a person placing the device on the tip of their finger. This device, though more in line with the mainstream testers, could be a real possibility because of the components mentioned in the patent. However, it is the second illustration that has the tech world excited. The second device is quite similar to a smartwatch. Interestingly, Google notes that the latter device could be used manually or configured to draw blood automatically.

It might be assumed that the smartwatches would cause a lot less pain than mainstream blood glucose testers because the latter requires a large drop of blood for testing. What's more, users tend to commit a lot of mistakes with the traditional testers. Many times, the user has to repeat the test owing to the error.

According to the Verge, Google hasn't been granted the patent.

Moreover, a Google spokesperson clarified, "Google holds patents on a variety of ideas. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services some don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents."

Google has recently begun expanding into the healthcare segment. The company is already developing two separate devices designed to help diabetics monitor their glucose levels. Smart contact lenses and a bandage-sized, cloud-connected sensor that help people monitor their glucose levels are some of the cutting-edge tools that Google revealed recently. The contact lenses take a very different approach to gauge blood sugar levels. The lenses are equipped with nanosensors that analyze the tears of the users to check for blood sugar.

Interestingly, if the lenses enter commercial production, they would be the first to completely eliminate the need for diabetics to prick their fingers to check their blood-sugar levels, reported the Indian Express. Google recently sent a pair of lenses with a built-in camera, confirming it envisions other uses as well.

The need of a minimally invasive or completely non-invasive monitoring system is a dire need for diabetics across the world. Hopefully, Google can infuse the needle-free blood draw system into a smartwatch, which already has other sensors like a heartbeat monitor.

[Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images]