Abbott tells CES it’s getting into consumer biowearables

U.S. medical device maker Abbott is moving into making general-purpose consumer biosensing wearables.

The company has been making continuous glucose monitor (CGM) hardware for diabetes management for years (since 2014) — but in a healthtech keynote at CES yesterday, Abbott’s chairman and CEO, Robert B. Ford, announced it’s developing a new line of consumer biowearables — called Lingo — intended for more general fitness and wellness purposes.

“Technology gives us the power to digitize, decentralize and democratize healthcare, create a shared language between you and your doctor — and put more control of your health in your hands,” he said during the keynote. “We’re creating a future that will bring you and your loved ones care that’s more personal and precise. It’s happening right now. And its potential is no less than incredible.”

Ford said the Lingo sensing technology is being designed to track “key signals” in the body — such as glucose, ketones and lactate — adding that it could also be used to track alcohol levels in the future.

Last year the company launched a biosensor designed for athletes, called the Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biowearable iii — which was made available in Europe, and has been used by the likes of marathon world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge to support their training needs.

Abbott said its goal with Lingo is to expand glucose monitoring to people looking to manage their weight, sleep better, improve energy and think clearer.

To support this expanded utility it said it’s developing the biosensor to measure other biomarkers than glucose.

“A ketone biowearable is being developed to track ketones continuously, see how fast you are getting into ketosis, and understand exactly what keeps you there by providing insights on dieting and weight loss,” the company noted in a press release. “A lactate biowearable is in development to track continuous lactate build-up during exercise, which can be used as an indicator of athletic performance.”

In recent years a number of startups in the U.S., Europe and Asia have been seeking to productize CGM hardware — including existing sensors made by Abbott — for a variety of non-medical purposes, launching real-time blood glucose tracking services targeted at fitness enthusiasts, peopler wanting to lose weight or generally health conscious consumers.

Abbott jumping into the space itself so quickly suggests it sees significant potential for biosensing consumer wearables to go mainstream.

For a deep dive on what it’s like living with a CGM biosensor attached to your arm — and the constantly updating window into biological process that it provides — check out TechCrunch’s review of Ultrahuman’s Cyborg service, an Indian-based startup that’s repurposing current-gen sensing hardware made by Abbott.

Update: An Abbott spokeswoman confirmed the first biowearable to launch will be Lingo Keto — starting in Europe “later this year”.

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