KENNESAW, Georgia | Sep 21, 2022
As a child, Maria Valero watched her diabetic father prick his finger several times a day to draw blood and check his blood sugar with an electronic monitor. She was concerned about the invasive and painful process, but was also curious about the technology behind the device.
“After watching my dad go through this, I wanted to create something less invasive,” Valero said.
Assistant Professor of Information Technology at the Kennesaw State College of Computer Science and Software Engineering (CCSE) and Director of KSU’s IoT-as-a-Service Research Group works to improve the blood glucose monitoring process for the millions of people around the world affected by diabetes.
With funding from the College and extensive trial and error, Valero and his team have created a non-invasive process that can identify the exact blood sugar value with 90% accuracy without taking a blood sample. The GlucoCheck process uses light projected through human tissue, into the ear or finger, and a small camera to capture images from the other side. Valero’s team then uses a model to study the amount of light absorption in these images to determine blood glucose concentration.
“Our pilot study was very successful,” she said. “We are excited about how this device will help people with diabetes, which affects approximately one in 10 people in the United States.”
Valero and his team recently filed a provisional patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office to protect the process they created. Chris Cornelison, director of Kennesaw State’s Office of Intellectual Property Development, helped Valero screen research projects around the world to ensure that the GlucoCheck process is unique and patentable.
“The way we collect and produce the data is new, and we will continue to work on ways to improve the glucose estimation model,” Valero said. The team has tested the process on nearly 50 people so far, but before filing a full patent next summer, they will evaluate how the process works on people with a range of skin pigmentations and thicknesses.
Valero students have already created a mobile phone app and are working on connecting GlucoCheck to Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa.
“I am very fortunate to have excellent students who are extremely motivated and who bring a wealth of knowledge to this project,” Valero said. “Watching them grow as researchers who want to make a difference in the world using technology is very rewarding.”
According to CCSE Acting Associate Dean Paola Spoletini, Valero’s commitment to his research is compounded by his dedication to his students.
“Dr. Valero is passionate about using technology to make a difference in the world, and she is an incredible asset to our College,” Spoletini said. as a mentor and role model for his students.”
In addition to his students, Valero has worked closely with Hossain Shahriar, associate professor of information technology, and Katherine Ingram, associate professor of exercise science. Ingram is currently studying the risk of gestational diabetes, and Shahriar’s research focuses on health information technology, data analytics, and cybersecurity. Their paper detailing the pilot study was recently accepted into the Journal of Medical Internet Research, and Valero used the data to apply for additional funding.
– O’Brien Barrows Abbey
Photos by Judy Pishnery
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global connections, and entrepreneurial spirit attract students from across the country and around the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated (R2) doctoral research institution, placing it among an elite group of only 6% of US colleges and universities with R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.