CDR to partner with Bayer HealthCare on portable glucose monitor

LAWRENCE – Ask anyone with diabetes, and they’ll tell you it’s among the most challenging and frustrating diseases to manage.

But a team of University of Kansas faculty and students will soon be working to make diabetes management easier – and they’ll partner with industry leader Bayer HealthCare to do it.

Beginning this fall, students in KU’s new Advanced Design Studies 560 class will work to develop applications for Bayer’s Contour USB blood glucose meter, a portable diabetes management device and the first monitor to feature plug-in diabetes management software.

Under the direction of Greg Thomas, professor of design and director of the Center for Design Research at KU, the class will develop new interactive content and a customizable user interface for the disease management software that comes with the Contour USB. The class will also provide feedback on the product’s overall usability and present their findings to Bayer later in the year.

“Bayer is asking KU researchers to take a look at its blood glucose monitoring device and associated software and make them better,” Thomas said. “The fact that a company like Bayer wants to partner with us speaks well of the Center for Design Research and the students and faculty here at KU.”

The Contour USB meter looks similar to a standard flash drive but also has a port where patients can insert blood test strips, as well as an OLED display that announces the patient’s glucose level. The device plugs into the patient’s computer and inputs glucose readings into Bayer’s diabetes management software program, GLUCOFACTS DELUXE, which comes preloaded on the device. From there, GLUCOFACTS DELUXE allows users to track, chart and analyze their blood results.

“It’s a real cool device,” Thomas said. “It’ll be fun for us to work with it.”

Approximately 179,000 Kansans over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with diabetes. That represents 8.4 percent of the state’s adult population and a 42 percent growth in the prevalence of diabetes over the past decade.

“Thousands of Kansans have diabetes,” Thomas said. “By working with Bayer on this type of product research and development, we’re helping everyday people deal with this disease and live happier, healthier lives.”

The Bayer partnership is the latest success for the CDR, which was launched in 2011 to foster interdisciplinary collaboration across KU in the area of smart technology and consumer products. The CDR has been especially focused on the areas of distracted driving and automobile safety, as well as wireless technologies that impact health and wellness. Last week, the CDR announced a partnership with Voice Assist, a leading voice-command service company, on technologies designed to mitigate distracted driving.  The CDR has also been in talks with Garmin, Ford Motor Company and Audi regarding similar partnerships.

The CDR is part of the School of Architecture, Design and Planning but is open to faculty and students in all KU schools and departments. Advanced Design Studies 560 is a new class designed by Thomas through the CDR that enables KU faculty and students to work on technology solutions for industry-sponsored projects.

Contact: Joe Monaco, KU Public Affairs, 785-864-7100, jmonaco@ku.edu

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