Technology of the Future: Using Smartphones to Manage Diabetes

Technology has made leaps and bounds over the years, impacting practically every facet of our lives. Previous limitations are constantly being tested and pushed, and healthcare is no exception. While blood glucose monitoring devices and insulin pumps already exist, technology is taking these processes a step further.

A research team led by Jiawei Shao has leveraged smartphone technology combined with far-red light to test a potential new treatment for diabetes. One of the major challenges people with diabetes struggle with is maintaining stable blood sugar. This often involves constant blood testing and adjusting insulin dosages. The researchers may have found a way to make these processes more precise and automatic. They designed custom cells that respond to far-red light by producing insulin.

The cells were combined with wirelessly-powered red LED lights in a bio-compatible sheath that can be implanted into the skin. The technology is controlled wirelessly by a smartphone application. The application can activate the red LED lights to trigger insulin production in response to blood sugar readings provided by a Bluetooth-enabled blood glucose meter paired with the application.

This study is in the very early stages, having only been tested in a small pilot study using mice. However, the researchers explained that “successfully linking digital signals with engineered cells represents an important step toward translating similar cell-based therapies into the clinic.” With millions of people struggling to effectively manage their diabetes, this could become a potentially life-changing treatment option. There is clearly much more research and testing that needs to be conducted before it would reach human trials or approval, but it demonstrates the incredible potential of advanced technology and synthetic biology in future healthcare.

The Diabetes Research Connection proudly supports early career scientists and researchers by funding emerging research aimed at the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of type 1 diabetes. Learn more about the amazing work of these individuals and teams and support their projects at

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