The origins of mSafety
Can Sony communications technology make life better for diabetics?
In 2016, Claes Nilsson pitched an idea for a new diabetes app in a competition organised by the Sony Startup Acceleration Program (SSAP). His idea won the competition and was successfully incubated. As part of the Wearable Platform Division in Sony Network Communications Europe it has now evolved to become the mSafety remote monitoring solution, which is neither a dedicated diabetes service nor a medical device, but rather a B2B platform upon which Sony’s customers can build all kinds of health and safety applications – including, of course, applications for diabetes monitoring.
Diabetics spend their lives managing the fluctuations in their blood sugar levels, but as Claes is keen to point out, the condition need not be life-limiting. “As a diabetic, you can be very healthy,” he says. “However, managing the condition is complex. You have to keep track of so many health parameters – like your diet, activity levels, stress and sleep.”
Today, many diabetics use continuous glucose monitoring systems to keep an eye on their blood sugar. These consist of a sensor on the skin and a smartphone app that displays glucose values. “They work fine for most people,” says Claes, “but the very old and very young tend to struggle with smartphone apps. And of course, battery life is always an issue.”
Claes grappled with this problem, and eventually came up with a new concept: a type of wristwatch that continuously receives blood sugar values from the glucose monitor sensor over Bluetooth. This wearable device talks directly to the cloud, without needing to have a smartphone nearby. It gives the diabetic – and his/her relatives and healthcare providers – regular status updates and sends an alarm if blood sugar values get too low or too high.
He explains, “Sony uses a very energy-efficient type of communication technology, which means the wearable device has a long battery life. It’s easy to configure in such a way as to provide continuous support, which is especially important for parents of children with diabetes – as I learnt from my own experience of having two diabetic daughters.”
Although originally developed to keep track of users’ blood sugar, the mSafety platform can actually be used to monitor many different values. It includes activity sensors and GPS, so users and carers can keep track of activity levels, stress, sleep patterns and location.
“In fact, mSafety covers most of the lifestyle factors that are so important in managing diabetes. This means that if a parent is alerted to the fact that their diabetic child has low blood sugar, they can locate him or her immediately and rush over with a handful of grapes!” says Claes.
What differentiates mSafety’s wearable technology from other connected wearable solutions on the market today is that it’s not a turnkey product, but a platform upon which Sony’s customers can create their own applications.
Potential end users include the elderly and those with chronic health conditions, solitary workers in hazardous occupations, researchers conducting pharmaceutical trials, people practicing near-shore water sports like kitesurfing or kayaking – plus, of course, anyone responsible for the wellbeing of these groups.
Claes is proud of the team for making mSafety available to companies who want to develop health applications. “Having continuous access to real-time status updates is already changing the lives of so many people who need it” he says. Claes also looks forward to a time when it will be possible to see the user’s data and predict blood glucose levels. “Having type-1 diabetes myself, I would really like to be able to manage the illness even more actively. Thanks to advances in AI, that is no longer a pipe dream, but a genuine possibility.”
“If it can be measured, it can be monitored and, we hope, successfully managed!” Claes Nilsson, Senior Researcher at Sony