Google might be joining the needle-free blood test party. The company has filed a patentfor a “needle-free blood draw” system that can be used either as a wearable on a person’s wrist or as a hand-held device that takes blood from a fingertip or other parts of the body.
The patent, which was published today and is still pending, describes a blood draw system that works by sending a surge of gas into a barrel containing a micro-particle that pierces the skin. Once blood is released from the skin, it’s sucked up into the negative pressure barrel. “Such an application might be used to draw a small amount of blood, for example, for a glucose test,” Google explains. This means that the technology could end up being used to help people with diabetes. We emailed Google about to ask about this, and a spokesperson replied “we 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 our patents.”
Given Life Sciences’ current projects, a focus on diabetes wouldn’t be that surprising. The company is already working on two devices designed to help diabetics monitor their glucose levels: smart contact lenses and a bandage-sized, cloud-connected sensor to help people monitor their glucose levels. If these projects are successful — and if they gain FDA clearance — that could mean big business for Google; about 29 million people in the US have diabetes.
Given the nature of patents, it’s hard to tell if Google (now Alphabet) is actually working on this device at all. If the company does decide to move ahead with this, however, it might have to readjust its design. Right now, the wrist wearable featured in the patent looks like an oversized Moto 360 from hell.