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Fitbit's investment in glucose-monitoring startup is part of its plans for the future

This is Fitbit's first-ever investment in a startup, with the idea likely being to make products that are more valuable to overall health.

Published onJanuary 5, 2018

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  • Fitbit confirmed its $6 million investment in Sano, a glucose-monitoring startup
  • The investment is Fitbit’s first in a startup
  • Fitbit said the investment fits in the company’s future plans, but did not say whether a future device will have glucose tracking

Known for making fitness-oriented wearables, Fitbit is reported to have made its first-ever investment, with $6 million of the company’s funds going to glucose-monitoring startup Sano.

As CNBC reports, Sano is a startup founded in 2011 that is working on a minimally-invasive patch that tracks your blood sugar levels. Around the size of a coin, it is unknown whether the patch will be available to the masses or whether it will require FDA approval.

What is known is that Sano is not the only company trying to make minimally invasive glucose monitoring a reality — Alphabet’s Verily is working on such technology, while Apple is reported to be working on a noninvasive patch that does not use needles. By comparison, Sano’s patch does use needles, but Sano CEO Ashwin Pushpala said its option is less painful than current alternatives.

Fitbit Ionic's first software update brings more watch faces and apps, improved touch interaction
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Also, even though Sano’s solution will not be available for at least another year, Pushpala said it is intended for those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The patch could even be intended for the pre-diabetic and those who want to learn more about their glucose levels and how they fluctuate throughout the day.

As for Fitbit, CEO James Park said the investment plays into the company’s future plans:

This fits into our strategy of looking beyond the device and thinking more about (health) solutions. I think the complete solution comes in the form of having some monitoring solution that is coupled with a display, and a wearable that can give you the interventions at the right moment.

Park did not say that future Fitbit products will feature built-in blood sugar monitors, though it should be said that the company partnered up with Dexcom, Inc. to incorporate a continuous glucose-monitoring display into the Ionic smartwatch.

What it comes down to, however, is Fitbit wanting to remain competitive. It has lost significant ground in the wearable space to the likes of Apple, Xiaomi, and even Samsung in recent years, so having this sort of technology could be a significant differentiator for the company.

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