As its first start-up investment, San Francisco tech company Fitbit has invested $6 million into the Sano patch. Sano, another San Francisco tech company, will partner with Fitbit to develop a wearable skin patch to track blood sugar for people with diabetes. 

Though Fitbit already has glucose-monitoring technology in its Ionic smartwatch, the Sano patch provides a painless, minimally invasive way to track glucose. 

About the Sano Patch

The coin-sized Sano patch, also called Sano, is a biometric sensor. It’s described as comfortable and low-profile, and it uses very tiny needles. Sano’s mission for the wearable patch is to “give people continuous and personalized insights into their body chemistry.”

At last count by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million Americans currently live with some form of diabetes or prediabetes.

General Manager of Fitbit Health Solutions, Adam Pellegrini, said, “As part of the global shift towards precision medicine, wearable data has the potential to inform highly personalized healthcare.”

James Park, CEO of Fitbit, said the investment “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 […] that is coupled with a display, and a wearable [device] that can give you the interventions at the right moment.”

Future of Diabetes Tech

Introducing glucose-tracking functionality into a smartwatch is an advancement not only benefitting diabetics. The National Institutes of Health announced last November that it had purchased 10,000 Fitbits (aiming for one million) to help with a research study about the role individual activity plays on health.

Even though the Sano patch is targeted at people with diabetes, it’s also open to those who just want to monitor their sugar intake. Apple has also reportedly attempted to beat Fitbit at the same game but hasn’t yet figured out how to develop a completely needle-free glucose reading. It is instead looking to make its watch into an EKG.

The downside of the Sano patch is that it won’t be on the market yet for at least another year, and FDA approval may be required before Fitbit is allowed to implement.