Parents hack diabetes monitor to take children’s health into their own hands
ParkhurstWednesday 16 March 20160 view
Diabetest monitors hacked
TORONTO — Desperate to keep better tabs on their children’s Type 1 diabetes, a new generation of tech-savvy parents have hacked into blood sugar monitoring devices so that they can keep an eye on them remotely.
Kate Farnsworth was the first Canadian parent to rig the system so she could monitor her child. Farnsworth read about the hack in a US parent’s blog and decided to try it with her daughter, Sydney, age 12.
The volunteer-written software code, dubbed Nightscout, allows data collected by monitors to be uploaded to the cloud via a smartphone or smart watch that’s connected to the monitor. Instead of relying on teachers and other care-givers to check the monitors, parents can check them themselves and alert their kids.
Farnsworth says that Nightspot has been “life changing.”
“I used to worry all the time what her blood sugar was doing when she wasn’t with me or even when she is with me and she’s watching TV or just falling asleep in the back of the car.”
Farnsworth had no way of knowing if her daughter’s naps were the result of dangerously low insulin or normal tiredness.
Now, when the system sends an alert that Sydney’s blood sugars are too low or too high, her mom can text her to inject insulin or eat something.
Sydney says she feels much safer with the device.
“I love it. It’s turned my life around,” she says. “I can go to sleepovers. I can snowboard. I can just be myself with the watch on.”
The software is given away for free, with the only request being that parents pay it forward by offering technical help to new parents who join the global group, which has reached nearly 17,000 members on Facebook.
Parents are happy to have taken things into their hands instead of waiting for a commercial solution.
“Nobody’s in it for the money,” says Farnsworth. “The only goal is improving the lives of the people around us.”