FDA Warns Against Wearables Claiming To Offer Rumored Apple Watch Tech

Wearables like the Apple Watch have long been positioned as devices that can tell us a lot about our bodies and help us live healthier lives. To date, this has largely involved basic fitness-tracking features that can easily be monitored non-invasively like your heart rate, but long-term, the goal has always been to find ways to scrutinize other health markers. One target has long been blood glucose levels for those with diabetes and/or hypoglycemia, but the science isn't there yet. In fact, it's so not there that on Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to consumers to avoid using "smartwatches or smart rings that claim to measure blood glucose levels."

These claims aren't being made by the major smartwatch manufacturers like Apple or Samsung. Instead, devices from random unknown brands claiming to offer these features are "sold through online marketplaces or directly from the seller," per the FDA. "Be aware that the safety and effectiveness of these devices have not been reviewed by the FDA, and the use of these devices could result in inaccurate measurements of blood glucose levels."

The FDA's advisory stresses that any device that claims to test blood glucose levels without piercing the skin is not making those readings directly. Incorrect readings could, according to the agency, result in "errors in diabetes management." That, in turn, may result in taking the wrong dose of insulin or other medications, potentially leading to grave consequences like "dangerously low glucose, leading to mental confusion, coma, or death within hours of the error."

What about the Apple Watch?

Though this kind of feature doesn't yet exist on smartwatches or smart rings, that doesn't mean it won't be a thing in the future. We've long heard rumors about Apple's alleged work toward bringing blood glucose monitoring directly to its Apple Watch. For example, in February 2023, Bloomberg claimed that Apple was getting closer to a breakthrough that would enable its watch to keep track of a user's blood sugar levels non-invasively. That process may involve something called silicon photonics. 

Put simply, silicon photonics would use light to take a peek at the user's blood sugar levels — a big change from current monitoring tech, which is invasive. Such technology would revolutionize daily life for many people, but at the time of writing, it's not yet a thing and Apple itself has kept quiet about any potential innovations it may have developed. It's yet to be seen whether this type of technology could one day win over the FDA, and at present, there's nothing like it on the market.