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Monitor Diabetes From Your Smart Watch

Connecting a smart watch to a glucose sensor lets parents keep tabs on diabetic children

4 min read
Photo of the author and his son.
Photo: Mike McGregor

My son, Evan, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August 2012. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that attacks the pancreas and prevents insulin production. The body needs insulin to transport glucose from the blood to the cells. Synthetic insulin is used to manage type 1 diabetes, but it doesn’t work as quickly as human insulin. Determining the right dose of insulin for a given meal’s carbohydrate content becomes an all-consuming balancing act. Too little insulin and blood sugar skyrockets, causing potentially life-threatening complications. Too much insulin and blood sugar plunges to dangerous levels.

The shock of the diagnosis continued to set in over the next few months, as my wife, Laura, and I attempted to figure out how to keep a 4-year-old alive and happy. Eight to 12 finger-prick checks to measure blood glucose and 4 to 8 shots of insulin a day—these became the course of our days and nights. It was the most painful and dark period in my life, and we needed to find a better solution. So began a technological journey that allowed us to improve Evan’s quality of life—and ultimately the lives of many others.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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