Wired Up – A Taste of Magic


Connected to the CGM portion of the bionic pancreas, displaying my CGM data on a large television screen near the registration desk.

There are many amazing things about going to a Friends for Life conference, but one of my absolute favorites is having a chance to interact with people you’d never dream of meeting otherwise. As an example, years ago and only a day or two into my very first conference I found myself having lunch with Charlie Kimball. It was amazing. When does something like that happen? Never!

Except at Friends for Life.

This year one of my lunches was interrupted by a text message from Jeff Hitchcock asking me to meet him right away. Besides being one of my bosses at FFL, Jeff is the kind of guy you pretty much drop whatever you’re doing and go where he wants you to – no questions asked. So I did. And that’s when I got to meet Ed Damiano and his team. Ed’s presentation had quite an effect on me in February, so I was a bit starstruck…

They asked if I’d be comfortable having my CGM data displayed on a large TV screen out by the registration desk where everyone could see it. I didn’t even think twice.

Ed connected my Dexcom receiver to the device they built; a case that holds a Dexcom G4 receiver on one side, an iPhone on the other side, and a custom connection that pairs the two together.


I was now connected to half of the artificial pancreas.

The system was not connected to or aware of my insulin. It was just seeing my CGM data and sending it up into Ed’s system, then being beamed back down and displayed on the TV. Pretty damn cool.

Over the course of the next few days I could walk anywhere near the registration desk and see what my CGM was reading, all without having to pull out my Dexcom. I liked that.

One fly-by caught my attention though. Up in the corner of the TV it said “Low predicted in 156 minutes.” I quickly dismissed this information because the system wasn’t aware of my insulin. How could the algorithm be smart enough to know I would be low? Plus, 156 minutes is a long time – over 2.5 hours into the future.

Any guesses on what I was doing about 2.5 hours later? Sitting at a table next to the TV eating licorice because I was going low. It blew me away.

Maybe my BG was heading down in such a straight and predictable line that it didn’t need much logic to deduce a low coming on, but have you ever looked at a CGM tracing? Would you describe it as straight and predictable? Me either. I was impressed.

Ed and his group are doing some absolutely amazing things, and it is really exciting to watch their progress. I hope to have an opportunity to participate in one of their studies where I can experience more than a taste of this incredible system.

There is a lot of work yet to be done, but this thing is real, and it’s not all that far away.


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10 thoughts on “Wired Up – A Taste of Magic

  1. I had no idea this was happening at FFL this year—how cool!

    Ed Damiano’s project makes me love science and math. That thing is incredible! Scott the T-slim salesman filled B in on how many doughnuts he ate while wearing the bionic pancreas, how straight the graph line was, how he then proceeded to go out for a giant pasta supper, straight line…

    I wish I had spent some time in front of the big screen this summer!

  2. I had very little accuracy with the Dexcom 7, and my insurance no longer covers CGM’s and supplies. I would love to use the new and improved Dexcom with the G4 sensors. The members of the large group of Dexcom users on tudiabetes.org say it is a great device, and very accurate. I certainly cannot pay for this expensive CGM myself.

    Scott, I am glad you had this opportunity!

  3. While visiting family in Boston a couple of weeks ago, my wife’s cousin mentioned that she worked closely with Ed Damiano while in school (she brought up the name; not me, though I did recognize it) and that they’re still in touch occasionally. My impression is that, not only is he really smart, but he’s an all-around great guy, too.

    This is some exciting work indeed. The question has shifted from “will it ever happen?” to “who will get us there first?”

  4. Amazing!! Let Ed know if he needs a CDE w T1 to wear his devices and be part of any of these studies to sign me up!! 🙂
    2.5 hrs? Predictable? Simply AMAZING!!