Nightscout is an open source platform developed and run by a global community of people with type 1 diabetes, meaning it is freely available for anyone to use and modify at their own risk. It’s a combination of a commercial product called a Continuing Glucose Monitor (CGM), which provides constant updates on a person’s glucose levels, together with a DIY transmitter and the freely available Nightscout programming code, which enables the CGM data to be shared with a cloud data storage area where it can then be distributed to other devices. In this way, it allows more than one person to monitor glucose levels, which is particularly handy when the person with diabetes is a child.

How they’re disrupting

Traditional monitoring of diabetes involves taking blood samples from the fingertips several times a day and administering precise injections of insulin to maintain blood sugar levels. A CGM avoids daily blood samples by having a small sensor discretely fitted under your skin that monitors your glucose levels and, when attached to a transmitter, sends your data wirelessly to a digital device. While this new software is not as 100% accurate as a blood sample, it allows a person much greater freedom. There are commercial products similar to this on the market, but they are very expensive.

Disruption potential

Diabetes is a disease that affects 371 million people worldwide, 187 million of whom do not even know they have it, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Nightscout is one of a number of ventures that are using so-called ‘citizen science’ to create a community of large population data to better improve diagnosis and treatment of common illness and disease.

Investments and future

No external investment has been made. The Nightscout community is gaining pace across the US but is also beginning to show signs of growth in use worldwide.