This article is part of our Essential Guide: A CIOs guide to the Internet of Things (IoT)

Startup Insulin Angel uses internet of things to help diabetics

Germany-based Insulin Angel deploys internet of things sensors to help diabetics keep track of vital medication

Insulin Angel, a Berlin-based startup, has turned to internet of things (IoT) technology provided by Code_n startup contest winner relayr to help people living with diabetes keep track of their medication.

With more than 3.2 million people living with diabetes in the UK, and nearly 30 million Americans, many with permanent and critical insulin requirements, the cost of diabetes is now running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Insulin itself is extremely sensitive medication that needs to be kept within a very specific temperature range. Frequently, uncertainty over its integrity can lead to perfectly usable medication being thrown away, wasting even more money.

Using relayr’s WunderBar technology, Insulin Angel has set out to provide diabetics with more insight into the status of their medication, using the IoT to monitor its temperature and help minimise the risk of forgetting or losing critical equipment.

WunderBar is a chocolate bar-shaped array of six wireless IoT sensors, based on Nordic Semiconductors Bluetooth low energy (BLE) chips, which can be snapped apart – like a chocolate bar. The individual sensors can be attached to an object of choice to monitor its condition. The sensors use standard coin cell batteries lasting up to a year.

Once in place, the IoT chips send the data they gather to relayr’s OpenSensor Cloud Platform, from where real-time notifications can be pushed to users of Insulin Angel’s app, or to the device of a carer, parent or guardian if needed.

These alerts can tell the recipient if their medication is at risk of being compromised due to excess heat or cold, power failure, or if the user’s device has moved beyond a certain pre-set range of their medication, possibly indicating that someone has left their insulin at home in the fridge.

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Insulin Angel co-founder and relayr maker in residence Amin Zayani, himself a type 1 diabetic, said he had previously tried to build a similar system using an Arduino board, a temperature sensor, a buzzer and an LED, but ran into problems making it small and light enough for everyday use.

“Then, after I found the WunderBar, I just snapped the temperature sensing board and I had my hardware ready. Getting the app working with the SDK [software development kit] and relayr cloud connectivity was also incredibly easy. It was the perfect prototyping tool for me to develop Insulin Angel,” he said.

Relayr chief engineer and co-founder Paul Hopton added: “This is exactly why we built the WunderBar and our platform – to enable businesses, from enterprises to startups and the people behind them, to start realising their visions and bring them to market quickly.

“As a bunch of startup guys ourselves, we know how important it is to get your product to market as easily as possible and start testing the market. We think that Insulin Angel will be the first of many.”

“There is so much uncertainty and misunderstanding when it comes to diabetes,” said Zayani. “We hope that we will be able to reduce some the anxiety that surrounds the condition.”

Insulin Angel is currently attempting to raise $55,000 to fund itself via Indiegogo. Backers will have the option to nominate schools, hospitals, communities or charities to donate units to, opening the project out further still, said Zayani.

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