Bionic Pancreas

Smart Objects

We often think of wearable technology as an item of clothing or jewelry, such as the Nike FuelBand or the Apple Watch. However, the Internet of things is not limited to items that simply collect data and report it, it is starting to serve a much more important purpose.

Combining forces, researchers from both Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital developed what is known as a bionic pancreas, a smart object that emulates the physiological function of the human pancreas to assist with patients dealing with type 1 diabetes. Basically, this smart object regulates the amount of insulin (which lowers blood glucose levels) and glucagon (which raises blood glucose levels) injected into the body throughout the day.

The bionic pancreas needs to be paired with an iPhone smartphone application to wirelessly control the algorithms that dictate when each injection should take place, as well as how much of either chemical is necessary. Additionally, the phone must be placed in a G4 Platinum continuous glucose monitor cradle for the iPhone to communicate with a sensor worn by the user.

So this is how it works:

  1. The sensors/transmitter unit worn by the individual communicates glucose levels to the receiver.
  2. The receiver passes data over to the smartphone
  3. The mobile application makes a decision to dose either insulin or glucagon every 5 minutes.

After their first round of research was conducted (albeit on just 52 candidates), it was found that overall, the use of the bionic pancreas resulted in better glycemic control than is possible with the current diabetes monitoring methods and technologies.
This is yet another example of a wearable object that may have drastic implications regarding insurance costs or anything else of the sort.

To learn more about the bionic pancreas, check out this video!



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