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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

A Diabetes Gadget I Might Use: Nightscout

Recently, I wrote an essay about A Diabetes Gadget I Won't Use. Now I think I've found one I will use.

At that time, I was unaware of a new project that some folks have dreamed up and are using to display their CGM results. It's called Nightscout. (More information can be obtained at the project's website, and at their Facebook page, CGM in the Cloud (where they have over 17,000 members as of May 5, 2016), as well as numerous videos at YouTube).

What does Nightscout do? It allows real-time access to the output from a Dexcom CGM via smartphones, computers, tablets, and most interestingly, another gadget, the Pebble smartwatch. Photos of what the output looks like are at the NightScout website, one of which shows a computer monitor which shows a nearly-identical display to what the CGM shows. At another website, there are photos of the display on both a smartphone and on a Pebble smartwatch.

It's a Do-It-Yourself project, and requires (amongst other things) a Dexcom CGM, some cables, a smartphone or tablet, and internet access. One writer points out "If things go smoothly, it can be set up in about an hour.... The system is not something that you can purchase from Dexcom, not something you can download from the Google Play or Pebble App store but an imperfect system that requires work to install, support and equipment to purchase." The estimated cost is about $100 (or more if you want to add bells and whistles). And the Nightscout website points out that "There is no support or any warranty of any kind. The quality and performance of the project is with you if you choose to use it. This is a project that was created and is supported completely by volunteers." That disclaimer ignores the fact that the website has a forum, and the Facebook page also provides casual advice on how to set it up. And, as expected, there's the disclaimer to not use the data displayed through this gadget in making treatment decisions.

If you are using the Dexcom CGM device, and want to be able to display your BG numbers via the internet or on a Pebble smartwatch, the Nightscout project is worth investigating. Now that I'm aware of it, I'm going to get going with assembling my Nightscout gadget, and I'll fill you in on how it goes.

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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