Apple Inc taps new leader for ‘secret’ team developing glucose tracker

By Mark Gurman

Apple Inc. has named a new leader for its secret group working on a noninvasive blood sugar monitor, putting a veteran iPhone and Mac chip executive in charge of one of the company’s most ambitious forays into health technology. 

Tim Millet, Apple’s vice president of platform architecture, has taken charge of the project after it was left without a dedicated head for several months, according to people with knowledge of the change, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The team leading the work, called the Exploratory Design Group, or XDG, was previously led by scientist Bill Athas, who died at the end of last year. 

After Athas’ death, the group was overseen on an ad-hoc basis by his former deputies, who were elevated to report directly to Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies. The glucose-tracking team now reports to Millet, who has been one of Srouji’s top two lieutenants for a decade and an Apple employee for about 19 years. 

A spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple declined to comment on the change.

Apple’s push into medical technology has weighed on shares of existing providers. When Bloomberg first reported on the project in February, Dexcom Inc. and Abbott Laboratories slid in that day’s trading. Dexcom fell again on Thursday after the latest report, declining 3.5% in New York. Abbott shares were little-changed for the day.

Earlier this week, Apple announced updated watches with faster processors, but not much in the way of new health-related features. Over the past few years, however, it has added sensors for measuring blood oxygen and body temperature. It’s also working on a blood pressure monitor for release in the next two years. The hope for the glucose monitor is that it will eventually be compact enough to fit in the Apple Watch as well.

In recent years, Millet has been a key figure in Apple’s transition from Intel Corp. chips to its own M1 and M2 processors, serving as the spokesperson for some new Mac semiconductor designs during Apple’s product presentations and media interviews. Inside the company, he leads several teams behind the development of next-generation processors and other computer components. 

The group working on the glucose tracker resides within Apple’s semiconductor organization because the system relies on an advanced chip-based system. It uses a range of sensors to shoot lasers into the skin and determine how much glucose is present in a person’s body. Combined with artificial intelligence algorithms, the chip can then determine a person’s blood sugar.

Apple has been developing the blood sugar monitor since around 2011 and has recently made headway on the work, Bloomberg reported in February. A consumer launch inside of an Apple Watch still remains several years away, but people working on the project — codenamed E5 — say the company has proven internally that the system works. 

The company has recently shrunken the technology into an arm-worn gadget about the size of an iPhone, and is now focused on miniaturizing it further into a system that can fit into a wrist-worn device.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz