The tech industry's biggest conference of the year — the Consumer Electronics Show — kicks off today in Las Vegas, where the first FDA-approved wireless-capable glucose meter, the Telcare, will make its debut. You may have read Walt Mossberg's enthusiastic Wall St. Journal coverage of this new meter that zaps your BG results to an online database, where you or your doctor can access it via a password-protected website or iPhone app.

(btw, Amy flew to Vegas this morning to take part in Wednesday's CES Digital Health Summit, in a panel on diabetes technology.)

There's certainly a flurry of activity in mobile tools and apps for glucose meters at the moment! We also got word yesterday that LifeScan's new OneTouch VerioIQ "the first meter ever that automatically alerts you to patterns you might not even know where there" was approved by FDA. It is available now at an MSRP of $69.99. It uses the new OneTouch Verio Gold Test Strips, and we covered all the details in our review of the Verio IQ featuring Canadian D-blogger Pearlsa last month.

The Verio IQ appears to be the first of many new "smart glucose meters" in the works that aims to alert patients when they're trending high or low. We {heart} smart technology that actually helps people know what to DO with the numbers they're looking at.

In the latter weeks of 2011, Positive ID and Glooko both launched add-on tools for several brands of glucose meters that allow data to be sent to an iPhone app or secure website, and in December, the FDA finally approved the long-awaited iBGStar, the first glucose meter that attaches to an iPhone or iTouch.

So what makes Telcare different? Well, mainly the simple fact that it transmits blood sugar data to a secure website, which you or your healthcare team can access using a password-protected gateway or an iPhone app. No other meter does that without the need for an add-on tool or cord.

Although we haven't had a chance to review the device yet ourselves, the response thus far seems positive from D-bloggers, including respected T2 advocate David Mendosa.

Walt Mossberg, type 2 PWD and famous WSJ technology columnist, writes: "Despite some drawbacks, including a high price, I recommend the Telcare be considered by diabetics who want a better substitute for paper logs, or would benefit from real-time sharing of their readings." OK, well there are plenty of other tech-based logging tools that do away with the need for paper...

But unlike other mobile health apps, which require Bluetooth transmission or cords linking to a computer or phone, the Telcare BGM is cellular-enabled and automatically transmits the data to the secure website without any extra steps at all required by the patient, which is always a good thing. There is no fee for the cellular transmission of the data, so you don't have to sign on for yet another data plan. Telcare wirelessly transmits the data using T-Mobile, but can use other networks or it will simply hang onto your data until a signal is available. "Because it automatically logs results and allows real-time sharing, I believe diabetics who use this new system will be less likely to skip readings, or to fudge the numbers, especially if they allow doctors and other caregivers to see the results instantly. And that could mean an improvement in their health," Mossberg writes.

It seems it's a bit of a mixed bag on the design front. Mossberg emphasizes that the Telcare is bigger than your average glucose meter these days, which isn't really a benefit as far as our desire for sleek and unobtrusive devices goes. But the Telcare is colorful, with an iPhone-ish look and feel.

Mossberg writes that large size of the meter, low battery life, and the high price as some of the drawbacks. Without insurance, the Telcare costs $150 for the starter kit, which includes the meter, wall charger, case, and accessories. If you sign up for their one-year supply of test strips offer, the starter kit price goes down to $100. With that one-year subscription, strips are $36 for a bottle of 50, and jump to $56 when the special offer ends. On average, that's about the same cost as other brands of test strips if bought off the shelf. But who can afford to keep buying them over the counter, without insurance? Ouch.

Insurance coverage for the Telcare BGM is TBD, and there's no telling how long that might take.

Still, people are enthusiastic. D-blogger friend Kerri writes that she likes the messaging options the meter offers. "These reminders can help adherence with both supply reorders and testing compliance... and it's a great option to be able to avoid all of these messages, if you want."

And PWDs aren't the only ones excited about the Telcare meter. It was awarded first prize in two different categories in the 2011 e-tech Awards. And it was named one of the semi-finalists in the "Last Gadget Standing" competition at the current CES conference, an honor usually reserved for the more mainstream consumer gadgets from companies like Samsung, Sony and Epson. It placed 7th in the competition by popular vote. Pretty cool to see a medical device get so much love and attention from the mainstream techies!

This video from Telcare highlights the main features of their new meter:

So what are your first impressions? Will the Telcare be worth all the hype?

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.