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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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate, and Senior Community Manager at Blue Circle Health. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent my employer’s position. Read more…

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