This is from the pile of cool products you may not know existed. The GlucoWatch is made by Cygnus, Inc of Redwood City, CA and was approved by the FDA on March 22, 2001. In March of this year, Animas Corp of West Chester, PA bought out Cygnus for $10 million. As of July 31, 2007, Animas will no longer be marketing the GlucoWatch.

What is it?
The GlucoWatch Biographer is a glucose monitoring device that a patient wears like a wrist watch. Glucose measurements are taken non-invasively through the skin every 20 minutes for up to 12 hours at a time. The GlucoWatch measurements are not intended to replace finger-stick glucose measurements, but instead should be used to detect trends and patterns in glucose levels. It is only approved for use in adults age 18 and over.

How does it work?
After a 3-hour warm-up period, the patient calibrates (sets) the GlucoWatch Biographer using a finger-stick measurement. After calibration, the Biographer will begin monitoring glucose values. A low level electric current pulls fluid through the skin into gel discs in the Biographer. Electrodes in the Biographer measure glucose in the collected fluid for up to 12 hours at a time. The GlucoWatch Biographer also contains a built-in alarm that can be programmed to alert the user when results fall below pre-set low levels and above pre-set high levels.

Why is it used?
The GlucoWatch Biographer is not intended to replace fingerstick measurements but used to see the rise and falls of glucose throughout the day that intermittent fingerstick measurements cannot tell. This additional glucose information may help people with diabetes and their healthcare practitioners better manage their disease by providing more information on glucose trends.

So why was this product so successful?

There were many reason why the GlucoWatch didn’t succeed, but in my personal opinion as a healthcare practitioner, the primary reason is because it wasn’t accurate. The reason that the GlucoWatch wasn’t accurate is because the glucose that they measure was plasma glucose that had traveled through all the tissue of the skin, whereas fingerstick measurements take the glucose out of whole blood (a droplet of blood). A practioneer and a patient needs to count on the accuracy of any test measurements, the GlucoWatch just did not provide that stability. It’s a great idea, and one that is critically needed, but the execution needed some work.