Smartwatches are a great way to stay on top of your personal health and fitness goals and are becoming even more useful for people with diabetes. By utilizing Bluetooth technology, a smartwatch can connect a person to their phone or tablet and transmit data via an app to help you with blood glucose monitoring, alert you when it is time for insulin shots, and help you call emergency services if needed.  Currently, the majority of diabetic patients use finger pricks and insert test strips into compatible blood glucose meters or use a continuous glucose meter (CGM). Diabetic patients have dreamt of non-invasive means to assess their glucose levels quickly, and technological companies will soon achieve this. These devices also take advantage of sensors like ECG and SpO₂ (blood oxygen level saturation) along with other valuable features, including fitness tracking, sleep tracking, blood pressure, and heart rate monitoring.

There are many smartwatches available already, and frankly, they have not yet been studied/compared in clinical trials to assess their usefulness for patients with diabetes. This article will examine the FDA’s role in regulating smartwatches in diabetes, the various products available and provide guidance to how best fit a smartwatch in your personal journey with diabetes.

If you're looking for regular devices to monitor your blood sugar levels, then look at a previous blog post about the best glucose meters.

The #1 Best Smartwatch for Diabetics

Apple Watch Series 8 [GPS + Cellular, 41mm]
$264.00

Diabetes Compatibility: Dexcom Application, Medtronic readings via Minimed Watch app or GuardianMonitor, and Freestyle CGM via DiaBox

The perfect watch for diabetics. You can use the Medtronic mobile app on your phone to view real-time readings of your blood sugar and use it on your Apple Watch.

Experience the next level of connectivity with the Apple Watch Series 8. Stay in touch with calls, texts, and emails, even when away from your phone. Stream music, podcasts, and audiobooks on the go. And leave your phone at home without missing a beat.

With its always-on Retina display, you'll have more screen area to see everything at a glance. Plus, it features the most crack-resistant front crystal yet on an Apple Watch. The Series 8 is also IP6X dust-resistant and swim-proof, so you can take it anywhere life takes you. For added peace of mind, measure your blood oxygen levels, stress levels, sleep, and diet with powerful sensors and apps.

Main Features:
  • Weight: 42 g
  • Water Resistance: Up to 50 meters
  • Display: Always-On Retina LTPO OLED 41 Millimeters
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Connectivity: 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Compatibility: Android, IOS
  • Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
  • Sensors & Applications: Fitness Tracker, Messages, GPS, Pedometer, Time Display, Weather, Sleep Monitor, Find My Phone, Reminders, Voice Assistant, Phone, Alarm, Multisport Tracker, Elevation Tracker, Heart Rate Monitor, Music Player, Activity Tracker, Blood Oxygen
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03/21/2024 08:43 am GMT

What Does the FDA Say About Smartwatches for Tracking Blood Glucose?

Let’s first address the primary issue about using smartwatches to track your blood sugar. The FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration) recently came out saying, “[the FDA] has not authorized, cleared, or approved any smartwatch or smart ring that is intended to measure or estimate blood glucose values on its own.” Therefore, it remains crucial to differentiate smartwatches from available medical devices on the market and identify ways this technology can be useful but not entirely relied upon for monitoring your blood glucose levels.

Which Smartwatch Can Monitor Blood Sugar Levels?

In 2001 we had the first diabetes watch introduced by GlucoWatch. They tried non-invasive glucose monitoring without the need to penetrate the skin. Unfortunately, they never got FDA approval and had to stop their product in 2007.

Other brands like K'Watch tried to create a non-invasive glucose monitor, but none of them really took off.

Today, we are grateful that smartwatches can display the glucose readings on a mainstream watch. The most common models compatible with CGM devices include the Apple Watch, Google Pixel Watch, Fitbit, and Samsung.

While there are rumors that Apple Watch and Fitbit will announce direct blood glucose readings on their devices,  there is currently no direct integration to get your glucose levels directly on the watch itself. However, research since 2022 shows that major tech companies will continue to make advancements in making this seamless and widely available to the public but may need to acquire FDA approval before anything is officially marketed.

Can A Smartwatch Track Blood Glucose Levels?

A smartwatch itself can't track blood glucose levels, but it can work together with a special app to help you monitor blood glucose levels and transfer your blood sugar readings to your phone. The device will pair up with your phone and record the data from the watch's sensors when you feel an increase or decrease in your blood glucose levels. The phone app receives the data from your CGM sensor/transmitter through Bluetooth. So it's not the smartwatch monitoring your blood sugar levels; it's more like it acts as a conduit to show you what is happening with your blood sugar level.

Which CGM Works With a Smartwatch?

Some market-leading CGMs that pair with most smartwatches include the Dexcom G-Series, Medtronic MiniMed systems, and Abbott Freestyle Libre.

1. Dexcom

The Dexcom G6 mobile software is adaptable to both Apple and Android smartwatches.

The app's main screen offers a wealth of information. It contains your current glucose number, arrow trend, and graphs for 1-, 3-, 6- and 24-hour periods.

Dexcom offers helpful insight on how to integrate your smart devices with their CGM systems here.

Dexcom And Apple Watch

2. Medtronic

Medtronic is the world's largest insulin pump brand and the only one to manufacture a CGM called the Guardian Connect. For example, the MiniMed 780G is a hybrid closed-loop insulin pump that automatically adjusts basal rates to keep blood sugar levels in check.

How do I connect my Medtronic device to my Apple watch?

There is no official way yet to display real-time data from Medtronic directly to Apple smartwatches yet. However, you can use the Medtronic mobile app on your iPhone to view real-time blood sugar readings and connect with your Apple Watch to keep track. It will only work if you have the Minimed 780G insulin pump and the associated MiniMed mobile app. Use the official Medtronic guide to connect your device.

You can also use the 3rd party app GuardianMonitor to display your blood sugar levels on the Apple Watch 7 and 8.
Apple Watch 8 Guardian Monitor

3. FreeStyle Libre

This system from Abbott Diabetes Care is known as a Flash Glucose Monitor.

Users must manually wave their phone or scanner over the tiny circular sensor worn on the arm to get a reading. There is no clear indication of when Abbott will release a direct connection to a smartwatch, but apps like DiaBox can help you with a connection.

What Is The Best Smartwatch for Diabetics?

Below you can find some of the best smartwatches for diabetics that will be sure to meet your needs!

Apple Watch Series 8 [GPS + Cellular, 41mm]
$264.00

Diabetes Compatibility: Dexcom Application, Medtronic readings via Minimed Watch app or GuardianMonitor, and Freestyle CGM via DiaBox

The perfect watch for diabetics. You can use the Medtronic mobile app on your phone to view real-time readings of your blood sugar and use it on your Apple Watch.

Experience the next level of connectivity with the Apple Watch Series 8. Stay in touch with calls, texts, and emails, even when away from your phone. Stream music, podcasts, and audiobooks on the go. And leave your phone at home without missing a beat.

With its always-on Retina display, you'll have more screen area to see everything at a glance. Plus, it features the most crack-resistant front crystal yet on an Apple Watch. The Series 8 is also IP6X dust-resistant and swim-proof, so you can take it anywhere life takes you. For added peace of mind, measure your blood oxygen levels, stress levels, sleep, and diet with powerful sensors and apps.

Main Features:
  • Weight: 42 g
  • Water Resistance: Up to 50 meters
  • Display: Always-On Retina LTPO OLED 41 Millimeters
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Connectivity: 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Compatibility: Android, IOS
  • Battery Life: Up to 18 hours
  • Sensors & Applications: Fitness Tracker, Messages, GPS, Pedometer, Time Display, Weather, Sleep Monitor, Find My Phone, Reminders, Voice Assistant, Phone, Alarm, Multisport Tracker, Elevation Tracker, Heart Rate Monitor, Music Player, Activity Tracker, Blood Oxygen
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03/21/2024 08:43 am GMT
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
$287.07

Diabetes Compatibility: Dexcom, One Drop, or third-party applications

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is the perfect device to help you reach your fitness goals. Its advanced sensors keep track of your pace and help you achieve your run goals better, while the comfortably sleek design makes it light enough to wear anywhere.

With the built-in heart rate monitor, you can see if your heart rate is where you want it and get automatically alerted if your watch detects a high or low heart rate. The integrated sleep tracker offers valuable insights on how to get a better night's sleep, and the watch also monitors your stress level. The long-lasting battery means you can stay powered up all day long.

Main Features:
  • Weight: 42 g
  • Water Resistance: 5 ATM
  • Display: 44 Millimeters AMOLED Gorilla Glass
  • Storage: 4GB
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, 4G, NFC
  • Compatibility: Android, IOS
  • Battery Life: Up to 6 days
  • Sensors & Applications: Weather, Sleep Monitor, Reminders, Voice Assistant, Alexa, Phone, GPS, Heart Rate Monitor, Blood Oxygen, Activity Tracker
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03/21/2024 08:49 am GMT
Fossil Gen 6 Touchscreen Smartwatch
$299.00 $169.80

Diabetes Compatibility: Tracking via third-party applications

The Fossil Men's Gen 6 Touchscreen Smartwatch has all the features to keep your life on track. It uses Wear OS by Google, which is compatible with phones running the latest version of Android or iOS. It has a Qualcomm 4100+ chipset for a 30% enhanced performance.

You'll love how this smartwatch automatically tracks your activity goals, steps, sleep, heart rate, cardio, and SpO2 (blood oxygen). And with GPS tracking capabilities, you can accurately monitor your distance and path during workouts. Its advanced sensors provide data that can power all your health and fitness tracker apps.

Main Features:
  • Weight: N/A
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM
  • Display: Gorilla Glass Protection
  • Storage: 8 GB
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 LE, GPS, NFC SE, WiFi
  • Compatibility: Android, IOS
  • Battery Life: Approx 24+ hours
  • Sensors & Applications: Sleep Monitor, Calendar, GPS, Heart Rate Monitor, Email, Sedentary Reminder, Activity Tracker, Pedometer, Time Display, Distance Tracker, Text Messaging, Phone Call, Notifications, Music Player
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03/21/2024 08:50 am GMT
TicWatch Pro 3 GPS Smart Watch

Diabetes Compatibility: Dexcom, Freestyle Libre, and Medtronic CGM via xDrip+ and Glimp

If you're looking for a top-of-the-line smartwatch with extended battery life, look no further than the TicWatch Pro 3. This innovative device features dual-layer display technology that allows you to use it in Smart Mode for up to 3 days or switch to Enhanced Essential Mode for up to 45 days of battery life.

The watch also monitors your health and fitness with multiple sports modes, built-in GPS, a barometer, and 24-hour heart rate monitoring. And for added functionality, the TicWatch Pro 3 now includes Sleep Tracking, Stress Monitoring, Noise Detection, and more.

Main Features:
  • Weight: 41.9g
  • Water Resistance: IP68 + Pool swimming suitable
  • Display: Gorilla Glass Protection
  • Storage: 8 GB
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and GPS, 4G LTE
  • Compatibility: Android, IOS
  • Battery Life: 3-45 Days Battery Life
  • Sensors: Sleep Tracking, GPS, Blood Oxygen, Glonass+Galileo, Stress Monitoring, PPG Heart Rate Sensor, Accelerator, Gyroscope, Ambient Light Sensor, Barometer
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Garmin Venu 2 Smartwatch with Advanced Health Monitoring
$399.99 $350.38

Diabetes Compatibility: Dexcom and Freestyle Libre via watch face setup

The Garmin Venu 2 Smartwatch is perfect for keeping track of your health and fitness. With extensive health monitoring features, you can see detailed information on your Body Battery energy levels, sleep score, fitness age, and more. You can also find new ways to get moving with the built-in sports apps. You can access safety and tracking features like incident detection and assistance when paired with a compatible smartphone.

Burn calories, monitor your health, and stay connected with the latest fitness tracking features on the Garmin Venu 2 Smartwatch. With more than 25 built-in sports apps, you can find a way to get moving that fits your lifestyle. And with incident detection and assistance features, you can feel safe and secure while enjoying your favorite outdoor activities.

Main Features:
  • Weight: 49 g
  • Water Resistance: 5ATM
  • Display: Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Storage: 650 songs
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
  • Compatibility: Android, iOS
  • Battery Life: 12 days
  • Sensors: Health Snapshot™ Feature, Body Battery™ Energy Monitoring, Pulse Ox Sensor, Stress Tracking, Hydration Tracking, Respiration Tracking, Sleep Score and Advanced Sleep Monitoring, Wrist-Based Heart Rate, Mindful Breathing, Fitness Age, On-Screen Workouts, Built-In Sports Apps, Advanced Strength Training
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03/21/2024 08:54 am GMT

How Smartwatches Help in Diabetes Management

A smartwatch is a fantastic device in its own right and can help diabetics in several ways. For example, they can be alerted when their blood sugar reaches high or low levels and take the appropriate action to correct it. In addition, they can track food intake, physical activity, and insulin doses to manage diabetes better.

Real-time glucose readings

Some diabetes watches offer continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) integration, providing users with real-time glucose readings. This feature helps diabetic patients to review their blood sugar levels and to make informed decisions about insulin administration, food intake, and exercise, ultimately leading to better blood sugar control and diabetes management.

Glucose trend analysis

These smartwatches provide real-time glucose readings and analyze blood glucose data and trends. This analysis enables users to identify patterns and adjust their lifestyle, medication, and overall diabetes management plan.

High/low glucose alerts

Diabetic smartwatches come with customizable alerts and notifications for high or low glucose levels, allowing users to take prompt action to prevent hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. This early warning system helps to avoid potential complications and maintain a healthy blood sugar balance.

Medication reminders

These smartwatches also offer medication reminders, ensuring users never miss a dose of their diabetes medications. This feature is especially helpful for those who take multiple medications or have a busy lifestyle.

Physical activity tracking

Diabetic smartwatches have built-in health and fitness features to monitor physical activity levels. This helps users stay active and manage their weight, which is essential for maintaining optimal blood sugar levels and overall health.

Sleep monitoring

Sleep plays a significant role in diabetes management, as poor sleep can affect blood sugar levels. Smartwatches offer advanced sleep tracking, providing insights into sleep patterns and quality, enabling users to make necessary adjustments for better sleep and improved diabetes

If you're looking for a way to help keep tabs on your diabetes while staying connected with the world, a smartwatch is the perfect device for you! Research before purchasing one to get the watch that best suits your needs.

What to Look for When Buying a Smartwatch

1. Battery Life

One of the most important things to consider when buying a smartwatch is its battery life since you'll often only get one full charge per night, and it's not always reliable for all brands. But if your watch can last up to several days without charging, this will undoubtedly help with diabetes management since you don't have to worry about plugging in every night or two as some watches require.

2. Water Resistance

Before buying a smartwatch, it's essential to check if it is water-resistant because you don't want your watch to stop working when swimming or taking a shower.

Most smartwatches are waterproof up to a certain depth, but some can be submerged in water without any damage, so double-check before purchasing one.

3. Compatible Devices

Some smartwatches only work on specific devices, so checking that your phone or tablet is compatible with the watch you're considering is important.

This isn't as big of an issue as it used to be since most smartwatches now have cross-platform compatibility, but double-check just in case.

4. Sensor Used

The sensor or device you use to measure your blood sugar isn't always compatible with all smartwatches. So if you're using a CGM (continuous glucose monitor), ensure the watch you buy is compatible with that sensor type.

Otherwise, you might be limited to specific brands or models of smartwatches that will work best for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my current Apple Watch detect blood sugar?

No, the Apple Watch does not currently have the ability to detect blood sugar, but integration with Dexcom devices was supposed to be available. You can also use third-party apps like GuardianMonitor (Medtronic) to track your glucose levels on an Apple watch.

Is there a Fitbit for diabetics?

Yes, Fitbit is great for diabetics. The Fitbit Sense, for example, is designed to monitor stress, heart rate, and sleep patterns, which are all important factors in managing diabetes. It also has advanced sensors that can detect glucose levels using compatible apps like Glucose Buddy and Dexcom G-Series.

Do Smartwatches Show Accurate Blood Glucose Readings?

Since smartwatches can't do direct blood glucose readings, they can't do this accurately. A smartwatch can only read your blood glucose by tracking blood glucose levels via specific apps of your CGM brand, like Dexcom and GuardianMonitor for Medtronic.

Conclusion

With the right smartwatch, you can stay connected to your diabetes health management while enjoying your whole life. While the FDA has for now officially struck down this technology for tracking blood glucose, it remains a matter of time before we see regulated smartwatches on the market that will truly do this for you. The choice of smartwatch for you will depend on how well integrated you want your watch to be with your smartphone, its features, battery life, and cost. Be sure to research before purchasing one to get the most appropriate watch for your needs and lifestyle.

Sources

At Diabetic Me, we are committed to delivering information that is precise, accurate, and pertinent. Our articles are supported by verified data from research papers, prestigious organizations, academic institutions, and medical associations to guarantee the integrity and relevance of the information we provide. You can learn more about our process and team on the about us page.

  1. FDA Smartwatches, rings claiming to measure glucose are not FDA-authorized. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. February 21, 2024. Accessed March 18, 2024.
  2. National Library of Medicine What is an electrocardiogram (ECG)? InformedHealth.org [Internet]. January 31, 2019. Accessed March 18, 2024.
  3. NIH Continuous glucose monitoring. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2023. Accessed March 18, 2024.
  4. American Diabetes Association Health Equity and Diabetes Technology: A Study of Access to Continuous Glucose Monitors by Payer, Geography and Race Executive Summary. ADA-CGM-Utilization-White-Paper-Oct-2022. 2022. Accessed March 19, 2024.
  5. American Diabetes Association Blood glucose meters can play an important role in diabetes care. Blood Glucose Meters Can Play an Important Role in Diabetes Care | ADA. Accessed March 18, 2024.
  6. OddHog How to connect your FreeStyle Libre to a smartwatch via DiaBox
  7. JustinTheDiabetic How to connect your Medtronic Guardian to the Apple Watch
  8. Medtronic Getting started with the MiniMed™ Mobile app
  9. Diabetic Me Fornoville E, Hi A the AEF. 15 best blood glucose meters for blood sugar testing (review 2021). Diabetic Me. March 24, 2021. Accessed March 18, 2024
  10. National Library of Medicine Chang T, Li H, Zhang N, et al. Highly integrated watch for noninvasive continual glucose monitoring. Microsyst Nanoeng. 2022;8:25. Published 2022 Feb 23. doi:10.1038/s41378-022-00355-5

4 Comments

  1. cora nyagoko on May 29, 2024

    do yall give free watch for diabetic

    Reply
    • Ely Fornoville on May 29, 2024

      Hi, no, we don’t give away free watches. But maybe in the future we will do a giveaway of some kind 🙂

      Reply
  2. Valerie Shampine on May 13, 2023

    Hi, I just saw an ad for a smart watch that claims to monitor glucose, it’s called Libiyi SmartWatch. Have you seen it and can you verify that it can do glucose readings in real time? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Ely on May 13, 2023

      To be honest, I never heard of it. When Fitbit, Samsung, Google, or Apple release a glucose reading smartwatch without a connection needed to your CGM or Pump I would trust them. Apple is been working on this for several years now and didn’t release any. If a different, smaller, and unknown brand claims they can I wouldn’t trust it. But if you do, let me know if it’s worth it 😀

      Reply

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About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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