Discrete diabetes test

Brunel University

Design graduate Andrew Bartlett has developed a stylish and easy-to-use glucose-monitoring device for teenagers that will reduce the stigma caused by blood testing in public.

Diabetics are advised to test their blood sugar levels four times a day to ensure their blood contains safe levels of glucose. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, affecting 1.6 million people in the UK, which – if glucose levels are left unmonitored – can lead to long-term complications including heart and kidney disease, blindness and limb amputation.

To be able to conduct regular tests, diabetics need to carry special equipment around with them: a needle (lancet) to draw blood; a test strip and a blood glucose monitor. They also need to wash their hands before testing to ensure an uncontaminated sample.

Andrew chose to design In1 after his own experiences of living with diabetes. As a teenager Andrew felt uneasy about testing at school or in front of strangers. He explains: “It is embarrassing to take a lot of medical equipment out of your bag in public as it marks you out as being different.”

Carrying the equipment and conducting tests when away from home can be awkward and discourages teenagers and young people from testing in public.

In1 is a computer mouse sized ‘pebble’ that despite its small size, contains all the equipment necessary to conduct a blood test, making testing quick and simple to carry out. Having all components in one case also removes the awkwardness of co-ordinating different medical equipment.

In1 includes a rollerball soap, which allows users to sterilise a small area of their skin, so they can take a test without having to find facilities in which to wash their hands. In1 also integrates test strips into a compartment in the glucose monitor to make the kit as compact as possible.

“I wanted In1 to be easy to use so that testing would be quicker and simpler,” explains Andrew. “I also wanted the kit to look more like a consumer gadget than traditional medical equipment – so it would fit into someone’s backpack or bag and not draw attention to itself.”

A recent study by Diabetes UKfound that four in five children with diabetes were failing to manage their diabetes and were not achieving recommended blood sugar levels. It is hoped that In1 will help to encourage teenagers to take more glucose tests.