Titan, a TATA company, is in negotiations with Prof Vijay K Varadan, an Indian born US molecular engineer attached to the University of Arkansas, to start production of ``glucose watches''. The talks are in the final stages. The deal is yet to be finalized.
Varadan holds the post of Director of the Centers of Nano-, Micro- and Neuro- Electronics, Sensors and Systems; High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC) and Neurosurgery Research Programme in University of Arkansas. He is with Penn State University, the hotbed of nano-technology.
The watch is likely to have carbon nanotubes at its bottom touching the skin. Connected to an electronic device, the sugar level will be displayed on the watch. In future designs, the company could go in for watches that would administer the drug also.
The watch would not be costly. If things work out, the watch with the bio-sensor would cost only Rs 200 more. A specifically designed ``glucose watch'' where the sensor is inbuilt might cost Rs 300 more than the present price.
It is likely that the watch will be equipped with a laser pointer illuminating a patch of skin over the sensor to read the glucose level while an infrared light detector monitors the response at the same time.
Nanotechnology, from the Greek word nanos, meaning `dwarf' is now a bustling enterprise that spans the sciences, from physics to robotics to medicine. In 2005, the US Government spent nearly 1 billion dollars on nanotechnology initiative strategic plan.
The sensors could be of single-walled carbon nanotubes - tiny cylinders made from single sheets of carbon. Robust, nanotubes don't degrade under high temperatures. For this reason, they have long attracted the attention of researchers and engineers for the design of super-strong fibers and other materials. Nanotube-based materials also have special electronic properties, acting as conductors, semiconductors and even superconductors - losing all electrical resistance at a certain temperature - depending on how they are made.
For diabetics, a prick-less sensor of this kind would be most welcome. India tops the list of diabetics with 3.5 crore. It is projected to cross the 5 crore mark easily by 2025.
Diabetics must monitor their blood glucose levels. Strict control over blood glucose has been shown to decrease the risk of complications from diabetes including blindness and kidney disease. Rapid changes over an order of minutes could wreak havoc on the body, doctors say.