Diabetics are hacking old insulin pumps to make them smarter — here's what happened when I tried it

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Diabetics are hacking old insulin pumps to make them smarter — here's what happened when I tried it

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that affects more than 1.2 million Americans. I'm one of them.

It's a disease that impairs the body's ability to produce the hormone insulin, which normally comes from the pancreas. So insulin has to be injected.

Managing blood sugars can be very difficult, and patients use a pump to help mimic the activity of the pancreas. However, pumps don't automatically adjust insulin levels for diabetics. And the manual process is tedious and can be dangerous.

But a few years ago, people figured out how to hack their insulin pumps to make them automatically adjust insulin levels more precisely.

This mini computer is used to hack the 2007 Medtronic insulin pump. 
This mini computer is used to hack the 2007 Medtronic insulin pump. 

While there is now an FDA approved commercial product available — made by Medtronic — there are still thousands of Type 1 diabetics that are turning to hacking to get better blood sugar control. I wanted to explore why.

Here's what happened when I put this do-it-yourself artificial pancreas system to the test.