GLUCOSE METER 2017-12-29T04:14:48+00:00

Project Description

Glucose Meter

A hand-powered glucose meter, ideal for diabetics who do not have easily-accessible replacement batteries.

The Team

Kristin Hare
Role: Designer
Ben Stewart
Role: Designer


The Users

Type 1 Diabetics must monitor their glucose levels at minimum after every meal and they need to use a glucose meter, lancets, lancing device, and test strips each time they test. They typically always carry these items everywhere.

The Problem

If a glucose meter’s battery runs out of power, the diabetic needs to know his or her blood glucose levels immediately and must promptly buy a new watch battery from a nearby store to check glucose levels quickly. The lancing device, lancets, and test strips need to be carried at all times, usually in a bulky and embarrassing case.

The Solution

There is a pertinent market need for a glucose meter that does not rely on batteries, holds everything in a compact manner, and does not look like a medical device.


“Diabetes affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar for energy.” (1)
Typical interaction with a glucose meter. Diabetics must carry this meter with them everywhere they go to test glucose levels frequently.

Surveys & Interviews with Diabetics

Interesting survey results from Type 1 diabetics revealed that many diabetics simply throw away their glucose meter when the battery runs out of power (after approximately 6 months – 1 year) because their doctors often give away free glucose meters.
With so many glucose meters being discarded into landfills, this was an opportunity to design a new glucose meter that depends on an alternative, more reliable, power source. Not only is discarding glucose meters harmful to the environment, but not all people can afford the luxury of owning multiple meters.
Diabetes is becoming more prevalent in developing countries and the World Diabetes Foundation estimates that 7.8% of the world’s population, 438 million people, will have diabetes by the year 2030. 70% of these cases will occur in low and middle income countries.(2) Most of these people do not have easy access to a local store that sells the watch batteries that are required by most meters on today’s market. A hand-powered glucose meter is an advantageous solution for diabetics in developing countries.


Design Objectives:

  • Design a hand-powered electronic device
  • Design and build a reliable glucose meter that does not need replaceable batteries
  • Design should be robust and portable
  • The device must be powered with a simple motion

Thumbnail Sketches

My studio partner and I decided to design a robust glucose meter that could be powered by a simple hand movement to solve this challenge.
Thumbnail sketches for various aesthetic directions:

Concept Sketches

Refined concept sketches focused on a simple, non-obvious motion to power the device so users can discretely use the meter.

Breadboard Models

An Eton crank flashlight and True2go glucose meter were disassembled so their functional mechanisms could be studied and utilized. The original small gear was too difficult to turn by hand, revealing that a larger gear was necessary. To avoid using a cumbersome crank like in the flashlight, a planetary gear was added to easily rotate the inner gears.
The larger gear allowed for fewer turns, which meant that powering the device could be more discrete.

User Testing

User testing with low fidelity models to establish motion, size, and grip.
Users preferred:
  • Flat, cylindrical model for symmetry and balance
  • Larger model for easy handling
  • Finger grips for simple grasping and turning of the model

Concept Refinement

The new glucose meter elimates need for a cumbersome carrying case by incorporating lancet and test strip storage in the base of the meter; electrical and mechanical components are located in the top of the meter.
Using the meter:
Exploded Solidworks’ view of internal components:
Solidworks rendering by Ben Stewart
Physical working model:
Functional model is slightly more bulky than intended due to availability of internal components. In production, the internal parts would be designed specifically for this casing, so the final form would be slimmer.
User testing with the new meter:
This consolidated, compact, glucose meter is ideal for developing countries where diabetics cannot afford the luxury of owning multiple meters. Diabetics can now always check their glucose levels without batteries.
Solidworks rendering by Ben Stewart
The new meter functions without replaceable batteries, resulting in a more sustainable meter that can be used to help diabetics in developing countries.
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