Medical

Wearable sensors that track glucose, ketones and alcohol levels are the future

Abbott announced a new brand of biowareables, called Lingo, at CES last week.

The Lingo portfolio of products are under development and are not intended for medical use. Lingo products are not for sale in the US. Products shown are for illustrative purposes only.
Abbott

What if you were able to measure your glucose levels, or know if your body was entering ketosis, all through a small sensor latched to your upper arm and a quick glance at your phone? 

Abbott, which announced its development of a new type of biowearable, Lingo, at CES 2022, says you will be able to soon. Abbott is known for its developments in diabetes technology with the FreeStyle Libre, an upper-arm sensor that continuously monitors the glucose levels of someone with diabetes. 

Now, the company says it's developing the Lingo sensors for everyone to use as a general monitor of some wellness markers. These are separate sensors that will measure health stats such as glucose, ketone, lactate and even alcohol levels (though that sensor will likely be developed last, Abbott said).

The Lingo sensor sits on the back of your arm with medical-grade adhesive and is about the size of two quarters stacked together. The Lingo takes measurements through a really small filament (about the width of three human hairs) that's inserted just below the skin, Marc Taub, a researcher and the divisional vice president of Technical Operations for Abbott's diabetes business, told CNET.

Taub said that Lingo sensors will look similar to the FreeStyle Libre, and were developed using similar technology, but the chemistry of each Lingo biowearable will be different as they measure different analytes. Like the FreeStyle Libre, the Lingo will translate the sensor's measurements into an electrical signal beamed right to your smartphone, where you'll be able to analyze the data and cater it to your goals.

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There isn't a timeline yet for when the Lingo sensors will be available in the US. But the first sensor that will hit the market later this year in Europe is the one that measures ketones -- helpful to the many who follow a keto diet and may benefit from knowing when they're in ketosis.

What's more, because each sensor offers a peek into a different part of someone's health, it'll be possible to wear more than one at a time. So, if you're interested in keeping an eye on your ketones for weight loss, but also want to monitor your lactate in order to maximize your exercise, you can do both.

As a precursor to Lingo, Abbott released the Libre Sense, which is available in Europe and was marketed toward athletes for glucose monitoring, helping them understand when they need to eat and fuel their bodies. When the Lingo sensor that monitors glucose becomes available, it will be used with general health goals in mind instead, like staying energized.

Like the name suggests, Lingo aims to speak your body's language, with a sensor that gives you whispers of your own health data and trends. Abbott's goal with Lingo is to take a deeper dive into health tech and wearables, hopefully democratizing health care "creating a shared language between you and your doctor," said Abbott CEO Robert Ford

But as is true with other advancements in technology, new developments in health tech raise new privacy and data concerns. As CNET's Justin Tech points out in his video on Lingo and the future of fitness tracking, detailed health information beamed straight to your phone begs the question of who will own it. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.