Do It Yourself technology a game changer for Type 1 diabetes


TAMPA, Fla.  (WFLA) –It’s a game changer for millions living with Type 1 diabetes.

New Bluetooth technology developed here in the Bay area and in California keeps track of your insulin levels every minute of the day.

One example is called RileyLink and it pairs a few small devices that link up to your smartphone.  It’s also part of the DIY or Do It Yourself community who are frustrated with traditional monitoring and its risks.  They’re building their own solutions to keep their diabetes in check.

The technology has yet to be approved by the FDA, but its users hope that will change soon.

Nichole Johnson of Seminole was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes more than 20 years ago. At the time, Johnson, then a student at USF, says she was forced to prick her fingers several times a day.

She finally hit rock bottom when her glucose levels got so low that someone found her in a coma.

Johnson started wearing an insulin pump that was as big as a backpack. As time went by, her insulin pumps decreased in size. Her latest one has a sensor.

“And it’s unfortunate that our manufactures of the different insulin pumps hasn’t gotten on board and done this a little faster,” said nurse practitioner Michele Lane when talking about the new technology.

Johnson and Lane worked together with engineers in California to develop a computer circuit board that fits in a small case and allows a smartphone app to track proper insulin levels at all times.

“To be able to able to see your blood sugar at any moment of the day,” Johnson told News Channel 8. “Or night, especially when you’re sleeping.”

Johnson and Lane admit the technology isn’t perfect.  Right now, it only works with one older model pump, but they expect that to change soon.

In the meantime, Johnson says she feels blessed.  “I am amazed and so grateful for technology and medical science and progress that’s happened that I’m here today and living my dreams,” she told us.

Some components of the technology, such as the sensor and the pump, are FDA approved.  However, the computer circuit board is not, though Johnson and Lane expect that to change.

To use RileyLink, visit

Be prepared to put in some elbow grease to get the devices connected.  It may look complicated, but Johnson says it took the two women one afternoon to put it together.

Finally, if you make any changes, it’s always best to talk with your doctor first, but Johnson told us, most doctors aren’t yet familiar with the product.

Follow Paul Mueller on Facebook


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