Open Source – Non-Invasive Glucose Meter Project

Title_NIRCGMProject can be followed via, Click here to view it.

I’m sure we are all now aware of the rapidly increasing epidemic that is Diabetes. I myself am part of those statistics. That is just my way of saying I also have it. We’re all just statistics to our healthcare systems. We’re not individuals where they care about how our lives work and if they’re actually able to help or not. They look at some statistics, and then make everyone conform to the average. I personally don’t agree with this practice. Humans are not the same, we are all different. One thing that works for one group of people, isn’t going to work for another group. We need variety in our choices on how to manage our personal lives for a number of reasons. One of those major contributing factors in this is money(isn’t it always?). In North America alone there are many people struggling to pay for their medical expenses and have a lower quality of life because of it. Test strips alone are a huge nuisance on a person who is managing their Diabetes. Knowing this information, and the fact that it also directly affects me as well, I decided to look into other methods of glucose monitoring. Video after the jump.

I discovered an interested method that is done by shining light though the skin. Different wavelengths of light are absorbed at different rates through blood depending on certain conditions. Pulse oxymeters use this same technique to determine the amount of oxygen in the blood. Without getting really heavy into the details, basically you use a green LED, a red LED, IR LED, and a 1550nm NIR LED. The green is used to determine how much skin is in the way, the Red and IR are used to determine the volume of blood being measured, and with the volume of blood you can use the 1550nm NIR LED to determine the amount of glucose. The reason 1550nm is used is because at that specific wavelength water in the blood does not absorb as much light as other wavelengths, and glucose still absorbs light at a reasonable rate. There are plenty of studies on this phenomena so if you would like to look into the details yourself look up the Beer-Lambert Law. Which is a law that represents how much light can make it through a translucent media based on which type and how many molecules are in the way.

So far I have designed and assembled a device capable of measuring light levels using each one of those LEDs through the skin, like an earlobe. I have not been successful getting stable readings through the skin, and I believe this is the most common issue with this type of system, test repeatability. At the moment I am no where near the point of getting a Blood glucose level. It could prove to be extremely difficult, and/or very inaccurate. But I have some interesting thoughts on the matter which I will talk about at a later date. I will be trying to introduce this problem to more advanced programmers than myself to get some help on the matter. Also I have learned that there is a better way to read the ADC than that of my current method, so those changes will most likely happen soon. On to the pictures!

NIRCGM - 1 NIRCGM - 2 NIRCGM - Components NIRCGM - HousingIts powered by at ATMEGA328p, has an on board battery and charger circuit. Running the Arduino bootloader so it can be programmed with the Arduino IDE. The body was printed on shapeways. I have been meaning to integrate bluetooth, but at the moment you can easily connect one of Sparkfun’s bluetooth breakouts since the standard FTDI connection on board is tied to a 6-pin 1mm spacing connector.

I always have many projects on the go, and it can prove to be quite difficult to keep them all on track. All of these projects come out of my own pocket, so therefore I occasionally need to make money. If I could spend all of my time with these “on a whim” projects I would absolutely do so, but unfortunately that isn’t the case just yet! I will have to be patient.

If anyone is really interested in this projects and believes they may be able to contribute, please email me at





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