A patent — filed on May 28th, 2014 and published December 3rd, 2015 — reveals a design for "A system for needle-free drawing of blood". This patent is exciting for anyone who needs to regularly test their blood for any reason. One of the common reasons people need to check their blood would be to monitor glucose levels. The patent mentions that one application of the new technology could be diabetes:
In a typical scenario, a person's blood is drawn and either sent to a lab or input into a handheld testing device, such as a glucose meter, where one or more tests are performed to measure various analyte levels and parameters in the blood. The frequency and regularity of such blood tests can depend on the type of test and the nature of the condition or conditions being monitored. For example, testing for blood glucose concentration for a person with diabetes may be performed relatively frequently. 1
The biggest advantage that the patent mentions is that the "the micro-particle can be small enough, and can be accelerated fast enough and to a high enough kinetic energy, to imperceptibly pierce the dermal tissue."1 Many would surely switch to their needle-free micro-particle system if the blood draw was imperceptible as the patent promises! The patent also elaborates on a system where "the device could be wearable, for instance attached to a wristband, and comparable in size and form factor to a small electronic device, such as USB flash memory drive."1 They go on to mention that other form factors designs would also be possible.
This is a diagram from the patent of the conceived needle-free apparatus and wearable:
According to The Verge, Google replied to one of their emails asking if diabetes patients would be able to specifically made use of this, Google's response was that "[they] hold 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 [their] patents."2
Here's to hoping this makes its way into the hands (pun intended) of diabetic hands soon instead of never surfacing!
1 Peeters, Eric, and Peter H. Smith. NEEDLE-FREE BLOOD DRAW. US Patent US 2015/0342509 Al, filed May 28, 2014, and issued December 3, 2015.
2 Duhaime-Ross, Arielle. "Google Wants Your Blood." The Verge. December 03, 2015. Accessed December 06, 2015. http://www.theverge.com/2015/12/3/9846088/google-needle-free-blood-draw-patent.
Sung, Jenny. "Google Files Patent for 'needle-free' Blood-drawing System." Global News Google Files Patent for Needlefree Blood Drawing System. December 04, 2015. Accessed December 06, 2015. http://globalnews.ca/news/2381215/google-files-patent-for-needle-free-blood-drawing-system/.