Fitbit has made its first-ever start-up investment, putting more than $6 million into an enterprise called Sano, which is developing a coin-sized patch that tracks blood sugar levels to help control diabetes.
Building blood-sugar tracking into a future device could dramatically increase the market for Fitbit devices since more than 100 million Americans are now living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fitbit has recently suffered declining sales: It sold 3.6 million devices in the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from 5.3 million a year earlier.
Apple is known to have a research team working on a noninvasive glucose reader, as CNBC first reported in April. The New York Times in December reported that the project was authorized by late Apple CEO Steve Jobs while embroiled in a personal battle with diabetes, and current CEO Tim Cook has been seen testing a personal glucose monitor.
The Apple Watch is Fitbit's most formidable competitor.