Norwegian version

Measuring blood sugar without pricking your finger

Photo by electrical engineering student Sindre Lilleseth, who provides a preliminary demonstration of blood glucose measurement.

The blood sugar level in diabetic patients must be regulated to avoid serious illness. Frequent measurements are important, but the patients still need to insert a needle through the skin to get correct values and they do not receive continuous blood glucose levels.


Cool that it is possible to produce such a device by 3D modelling. – Sindre

Five medical technology (MedTech) students at the electrical engineering bachelor programme at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet) are trying out a method that can continuously measure blood sugar levels without pricking.

This can be done by transmitting vibrations through the skin by ultrasound to the so-called interstitial fluid between the cells, see a preliminary demonstration in the picture at the top.

Wireless sensor measures blood sugar levels

Picture of the students in project

Medical technology students in front of the board in the project room. From left Sindre Lilleseth, Håkon Dahle, Nikolai Meldre Nordby, John Dahle and Andreas Løvstad. Photographed before the Corona crisis. Photo: Olav-Johan Øye

The students Sindre Lilleseth, Jon Dahle, Nikolai Meldre Nordby, Andreas Løvstad and Håkon Dahle were to develop a wireless sensor that could detect blood sugar levels in the bachelor thesis.

However, because of the Korona crisis in spring 2020, the students had to redefine the project when soldering workshops and laboratories at OsloMet were closed.

To complete, they had to turn it into a purely theoretical project, to their great frustration.

Facts about bachelor's in electrical engineering - medical technology

A specialized engineering education is an advantage when you should develop, manufacture, sell and maintain medical equipment and technology. Engineers in medical technology need insight in the medical field, and therefore the students learn about anatomy, physiology, ethics and safety.

Solves practical challenges with a 3D model

Thus, the project involves developing a 3D model of the wireless blood glucose meter, and designing the electronics using computer programs.

Picture of the 3D model showing the electronics.

3D model of the wireless blood glucose meter

This implies a slightly different approach to the project, but the students still face many challenges that must be solved based on calculations, theoretical understanding and professional literature.

‘It is quite cool that it is possible to produce such a device entirety by means of 3D modelling programs,’ says Sindre.

‘Then the project gets a practical approach, although it is a pity that we do not physically get the blood glucose meter in our hands and can test if it works.’

‘In addition, everything we do now can be used to develop the sensor later, when things are normalized,’ Jon adds.

Screen shot of the 3D-model with a lid

The 3D model of the blood glucose meter without a lid.

After school jobs have given students the opportunity to borrow a large room upstairs in a building on the harbour in Oslo. Here is enough space, little noise, a separate kitchen and possible to stay long at a time. It fits well because the bachelor thesis takes more and more time beyond the spring semester.

Found the bachelor project on their own

They went out on their own, tried to find a project for the bachelor's thesis, and contacted Norway Health Tech, an umbrella organization for medical-technical companies.

- We were allowed  to send e-mails to several of the companies, and found MecSense, which was a good fit to work with.

Basically it's their project, and they thought it was really good to be able to work together, Jon says.

The students think it is important to be out  early  contacting companies to get the most interesting assignments.

Creates a prototype for clinical testing

Picture of the electronics

Technology that can be useful to people: Glimpse into the electronics students were made before the Korona crisis. Photo: Olav-Johan Øye

They hope the bachelor thesis can be a starting point for a prototype that can later show that the solution works in real, and that it will be good enough for clinical trials.

Initially, testing is planned at Oslo University Hospital.

Can see trends in blood sugar levels

When the students will measure changes in their blood sugar levels, they will not get exact values, but be able to see if the blood sugar levels are going up or down.

The old method of piercing the skin into the blood vessels gives results only at single points of time and cannot measure changes continuously. You want to see the trends, whether blood sugar levels are on the rise or going down.

With machine learning, it can also eventually become possible to indicate the blood sugar levels more accurately.

Everyone wants to measure blood sugar without pricking

The mentors of the students at OsloMet, Professor Peyman Mirtaheri and Professor Olga Korostynska, are enthusiastic and excited about the result. Measuring glucose (blood sugar) without pricking is what everyone is trying to do.

To do so, various technologies have been tested. Some solutions have already come to the market. So far, they are not good enough and confident enough in their answers.

Pricking is thus still most common when measuring blood sugar. There are regulations to adhere to, and in practice, new meters with sensors must be as good as traditional blood glucose meters.

In a bachelor project, students do not have time to take into account everything that is important, such as size, ergonomics and power consumption on a finished product that can measure blood sugar levels.

Have learned much of high-quality requirements

The students think they have learned a lot. It is now that they really get to dive into what they have learned a little about before.

The most useful thing about education is that you learn more about learning, not necessarily just what you have learned, and here we can learn something from ourselves, and not just from a lecturer, they emphasize.

One challenge is that it is done in such a short time that they have to have very high-quality products with high sensitivity, so that what they do is really in the extreme corner of electronics. There is much to be learned. For example, the students have learned a lot about clocking processors.

Want to learn more about people and technology

‘Why did you choose medical technology at the Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Electrical Engineering at OsloMet?’

‘It was personal interests and values. I have worked with building automation and wanted more legs to stand on. I wanted to work with components and learn more about how they were made and worked,’ says Håkon.

‘I got into it more than I would have done studying automation at the electrical engineering programme, which is more about processes and how factories are connected, and how you can produce things by assembling units to make something.’

‘With medical technology you are at the intersection between the analog human and electronics. We can measure things that are physically happening in our bodies and have them translated into digital signals,’ – Nikolai