Apple supplier creates a sensor system capable of non-invasive blood sugar measurement

Apple supplier Rockley Photonics unveiled a comprehensive health sensor system that might help bring continuous non-invasive blood sugar measurement to a future Apple Watch.


  • Rockley Photonics launched its new digital health sensor system
  • It can measure blood sugar levels and more, non-invasively
  • Apple may adopt this technology for a future Apple Watch

Promotional graphics showing the back crystal of Apple Watch Series 6 with health sensors

Rockley may help bring new Apple Watch health features

The British electronics startup, which has an ongoing supply and development agreement with Apple, wrote in a press release on the Rockley website that its new digital health sensor system is like having a clinic on the wrist. It’s capable of non-invasive blood sugar measurement, among other things, a holy grail for treating diabetes and life sciences.

The sensor system permits the monitoring of other biomarkers simultaneously, including core body temperature, blood pressure, body hydration, alcohol, lactate and glucose trends. The company will release a wristband that contains the sensor module and works with a smartphone app to deliver various health insights.

Reference designs along with the new sensors will be made available to clients next year. If Apple decides to use Rockley’s technology to enable non-invasive blood sugar measurement on a future Apple Watch, then it sounds like the feature will debut in Apple Watch Series 8 in 2022 rather than the upcoming Series 7 model releasing this fall.

About Rockley’s spectroscopy technology

Rockley specializes in non-invasive optical sensors for detecting blood pressure, body temperature, blood glucose and alcohol levels and more. Similar to the optical heart rate sensor built into the Apple Watch’s back crystal, Rockley’s sensor uses infrared light to detect the aforementioned metrics through your skin.

From the press release:

While many of today’s wearable consumer electronic devices use green light-emitting diodes to monitor heart rate, Rockley’s infrared spectrophotometers can detect and monitor a much wider range of biomarkers, which could dramatically increase the functionality of wearable devices.

Based on Rockley spectroscopy technology, the sensor module takes advantage of a large number of discrete laser outputs from a single silicon chip to cover a broad optical band, allowing it to monitor several important blood-related metrics continually.

The sensor non-invasively probes beneath the skin to analyze blood, interstitial fluids and various layers of the dermis for constituents and physical phenomena of interest. Such biomarkers have historically been measurable only by using bench-top equipment.

The Telegraph reported in May 2021 that Rockley will go public on the NYSE later this year under the symbol RKLY, with Apple accounting for a vast majority of its revenue in 2020 and 2019. According to a June 2021 report from Bloomberg, a non-invasive blood glucose sensor is several years away from being shipped in an Apple Watch.

In fact, Apple may be working on similar non-invasive health sensors of its own.