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Google proposes ‘needle-less’ system for drawing blood

Fri 4 Dec 2015

Google has published a patent [PDF] for a needle-free blood draw technology which could be incorporated into a wrist wearable or hand-held device.

The patent filing explained that the system releases a pulse of gas into a barrel or ‘hollow cylinder’, containing a ‘micro-particle’ which can break through the skin and draw a small sample of blood.

According to Google, once the drop of blood forms it is drawn up into the negative pressure barrel. This technique is a quicker and less invasive alternative to using needles, or other blood measures which administer pin pricks to the finger to release the blood. The patent, which is still pending, suggests that the mechanism could also provide a replacement for glucose testers used by diabetics – ‘Such an application might be used to draw a small amount of blood, for example, for a glucose test,’ reads the patent.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 15.33.16Google’s X Lab, the team behind smart cutlery designed for patients with Parkinson’s disease, has already discussed its research into smart contact lenses and connected sensors to help diabetics keep track of their glucose levels. The latest proposal would therefore sit well alongside this wider initiative.

Google also announced plans last year that it was looking to create nanoparticles capable of detecting early signs of disease. Injected or absorbed into a patient’s bloodstream, the nanoparticles can respond to a wearable sensor bracelet which reads chemical signals from body cells as they become infected.

The search giant is eager to make big steps into the health data arena, competing against other leading tech companies. In October last year, it launched health tracking platform Google Fit to the public, shortly after the release of Apple’s iOS 8 HealthKit. Its users have since been able to store and analyse their health and fitness details in one place, collected from a range of different apps such as Nike Running, Strava and Aqualert.

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