What it does

OneDrop is a collection of solutions that are meant to be used together to help make managing diabetes easier. It includes a mobile app for logging and community sharing, a glucometer designed to make glucose testing delightful, and a subscription service to make the process of getting the supplies you need easy and convenient.

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why i made it

When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago, I reached out to the Internet to try to find an analytics platform and an experience that would allow me to track the things that matter to me, and engage with other people on the sharing of all that data. It turned out that none of that existed. 

I looked at all the pieces of the puzzle and saw that even the most advanced medical devices out there had, let's politely say a "sub-optimal" experience. The apps and the data sharing options were also horrible, in my opinion. No wonder people are not complying or managing their diabetes well, because the experience sucks. We live our lives in this modern world and our diabetes care is stuck 40 years back. There's a huge disconnect between what is and what should be. So we decided to build it.

My background includes being involved in digital transformation and many different forms of user experience design over the last 20 years and, more recently in the last 10 years, immersed in big data and analytics. While not being a medical professional, this problem seemed close to, if not well within my wheelhouse. We started OneDrop to enable people to have a great experience that will empower them, keep them mindful, and keep them motivated to manage their diabetes. And, I am patient zero in this instance and use the platform religiously.

how i made it

Our thesis always was and remains that a well thought out and crystal clear unified user experience is crucial: hardware, software, and service. We created the software first. It's something that we'd been working on, thinking about, and knew I could bring to market sooner than the hardware and the subscription service.

The OneDrop hardware experience is about liberating data so that people with diabetes can manage the things that matter to them, glucose data being the primary one. It's baffling to me that the diabetes industry, that makes billions and billions of dollars, is so unfocused on the things that really matter: getting people access to the information they need to make better choices to stay healthy. All of that underpins our hardware strategy, which is to give people a delightful, easy to use, fully connected way to enjoy and participate in managing their diabetes better.

In terms of our initial approach to our glucose meter, we analyzed what feature sets were already in the market and what was needed. Then, partnered with an industrial design team to bring the ideas to life. We honed in on a bunch of different concepts until we settled on the initial final design.

It was so important in this case to have a unified design language, one that speaks in hardware, software, service and brand. You can't really divorce the hardware from the software, from the packaging, from the consumer experience. To be successful, you need to translate that design language into all of those instances, the hardware being just one voice.



We eventually reached out to dozens of glucose meter manufacturers. First we narrowed it down to those that had already mastered the FDA approval process and would not add extra time to the regulatory channel. Next, we narrowed it down to those that could support us in a reasonable amount of time and had capacity. Then, we had those final six firms send us samples of their entire catalog to look at form factors, electrical engineering and quality of build. We reviewed the quality of the merchandise and disassembled all those meters to try and understand how they were made. Finally, I tested all those meters on myself to see where the accuracy levels were regarding the electro-chemistry in the strip platforms.

In glucose meters it's not just the meter, but also the test strip platform. There is electro-chemistry involved in strip manufacturing as well as the electrical engineering associated with the manufacturing of glucose meters. We wanted to test different vials of strips to see how the chemistry would hold up. We narrowed it down to two suppliers that could make what we wanted, had capacity, and had form factors that were similar to our design. 

What I learned

You don't really know what the technical manufacturing trade-offs are until you start shopping around for a partner. For an unlimited amount of money you can manufacture anything. Unfortunately, we do not have an unlimited amount of money. When you start to apply cost as a constraint then you start making trade-offs. For example, is Bluetooth connectivity the most important thing, or is screen resolution? Is a color OLED display better than segmented LTD? Is injection molded plastic better than vacuum-sealed, injected molded plastic? What about injected metal?

You start making those kind of trade-offs and choices and deciding what's important based on cost. The only way to get those costs discussions going is to start digging in and calling manufacturers. 

What's next

We're looking to ship mid-2016. We're focused on getting working prototypes off the line and getting the tooling done ASAP. In the mean time, you can download the app here: http://apple.co/1IWTvGk, follow us on Twitter here: @onedroptoday and @jeffdachis. Stay tuned!