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The Connected Metabolism

September 16, 2009
by Anne Pinckard

Diabetics may one day use their cell phones to keep track of their blood glucose tests, insulin levels, and diet. Mechanical engineer Chris Hannemann, M.S. ’08, who has type 1 diabetes, came up with the idea when, switching insulin therapies, he struggled to compile accurate information for his doctor and ended up with a lot of holes in the data. Typically, a diabetic’s information comes from three different sources—the glucose meter for blood sugar tests, an insulin pump for the amount of hormone injected into the blood stream, and a manual food log. Why not integrate all of it using wireless technology?

Together with Google applications developer Sarah Beth Eisinger ’07, Hannemann devised a system in which the glucose meter would send test results directly to a mobile device that could connect to the Internet, such as a cell phone or personal data assistant. Similarly, the pump would send records of how much insulin was injected into the bloodstream. The mobile device would also remind the user, with a sound or vibration, to record what had been eaten and when. Hannemann also envisions a user-friendly Web interface that could pull up nutritional information as a food item is entered.

Hannemann and Eisinger’s proposal won second place and $7,000 in an annual competition held by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), a collaboration of UC campuses. Hannemann, who is now employed full-time developing solar technology, plans to work on the project in his free time. His goal, he says, is to help diabetics manage their condition more easily. “I don’t really have a strong commercial desire in this. I’d be really as happy if I woke up tomorrow and [another company] had made it and it worked seamlessly, and I got to use it.”

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