Electronic Products & Technology

U of Waterloo researchers develop diabetes unit that monitors with radar & AI

New technology can quickly and accurately monitor glucose levels in people with diabetes without painful finger pricks to draw blood.

October 29, 2020  By University of Waterloo, Media Relations

A palm-sized device developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo uses radar and artificial intelligence (AI) to non-invasively monitor glucose levels in people with diabetes. The new technology can quickly and accurately read blood inside the human body without painful finger pricks to draw blood.

Researchers test a prototype of a new diabetes device for prick-free glucose monitoring.
Source: University of Waterloo

“The key advantage is simply no pricking,” said George Shaker, an engineering professor at Waterloo. “That is extremely important for a lot of people, especially elderly people with very sensitive skin and children who require multiple tests throughout the day.”

Sends radio waves through skin into blood vessels

About the same size as existing glucometers, the rectangular device works by sending radio waves through the skin and into blood vessels when users place the tip of their finger on a touchpad. The waves are then reflected back to the device for signal processing and analysis by AI software, telling users within seconds whether their blood sugar has gone up, down or remained the same.

Changes are measured in relation to a baseline reading that would be obtained every few weeks with a glucometer or a laboratory blood test to ensure accuracy.


“Our safe, reusable, pain-free device would eliminate the need for implanted sensors, patches or devices that use chemical reactions or fluid transfer through the skin,” said Ala Eldin Omer, an engineering PhD student who led the project.

Retail for less than $50

Researchers are now exploring commercialization of the inexpensive technology – they estimate the device would retail for less than $500 – and developing a wearable device similar to a smartwatch that would be on at all times.

“This finding paves the way for continuous monitoring,” said Shaker. “Given the current pace of progress, I expect the technology to be available in a wearable form within the next couple of years.”

Safieddin (Ali) Safavi-Naeini, also an engineering professor at Waterloo, said the science at the heart of the diabetes device potentially has several additional applications.

Extend to other types of blood analysis, medical diagnosis

“Since many ingredients of blood have distinct electromagnetic properties, the same technology could be extended to other types of blood analysis and medical diagnosis,” he said.

Much of the work was conducted at the Wireless Sensors and Devices Lab and the Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS) at Waterloo. Collaborators included several researchers at Sorbonne University in Paris.

A paper on the project, Low‑cost portable microwave sensor for non-invasive monitoring of blood glucose level: novel design utilizing a four-cell CSRR hexagonal configuration, appears online in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research journal.

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1 Comment » for U of Waterloo researchers develop diabetes unit that monitors with radar & AI
  1. Sara says:

    I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2018. I started the some diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally i began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do a lot of research. Then I found a successful diabetes treatment story (google ” How Ella freed diabetes ” ) I read that article from end to end because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next week my blood sugar was down to 100 and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just three week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 16 pounds and 3+ inches around my waist in a month. The truth is we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods

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