Award-Winning, Voice-Powered Device Could Make Diabetes Management Easier for the Newly Diagnosed

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Sugarpod, a voice-powered, in-home care system for diabetes management, recently won the grand prize in a competition called the Alexa Diabetes Challenge. Credit for this new invention goes to Seattle-based startup company Wellpepper.

The Alexa Diabetes Challenge was a competition sponsored by Merck & Co. that required participants to use ingenuity and Amazon’s Alexa voice technology to create some sort of system that would assist and make life easier for newly-diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes. According to the Alexa Diabetes Challenge website, judges looked for “patient-centric solutions that [would] reduce the friction of self management, while also considering the needs of stakeholders (e.g., caregivers, healthcare providers, payers, etc.) and the broader healthcare system.”

So Wellpepper came up with this nifty device.

Sugarpod is an interactive home care platform that does several different things. For one, it guides users through diabetes management tasks that are tailored to the individual user. Patients can also use Sugarpod to coordinate and share information with their care professionals. In addition to that, it measures users’ weight and photographs their feet. It then analyzes these photos and checks for early signs of diabetic foot ulcers—an extremely useful feature, as foot ulcers are extraordinarily expensive and can increase risk of hospitalization, limb amputation, and even death in patients with diabetes.

“Our approach was to take an end-to-end solution that included IoT and really integrated into the fabric of somebody’s day,” explained Wellpepper CEO and co-founder Anne Weiler.

Though it was meant to be a personal care platform, Wellpepper tested their prototype in a real-life clinic. It went over so well that they are considering extending their product’s use into those kinds of professional situations.

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In addition to helping with type 2 management, Sugarpod also checks for foot ulcers.

In addition to Sugarpod, 96 other valuable contributions were entered into the Alexa Diabetes Challenge. Other finalists in the competition were DiaBetty, My GluCoach, PIA: Personal Intelligent Agents for Type 2 Diabetes, and T2D2: Taming Type 2 Diabetes, Together. For winning the competition, Wellpepper took home $125,000 as their prize.

Wellpepper is a company that has been around for five years now. According to its website, “Wellpepper is an award-winning and clinically-validated patient engagement platform used by major health systems to improve outcomes and lower costs of care.”

You can learn more about how Sugarpod works in the video below.

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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.