A Montreal doctor is pairing traditional medicine with mobile phone technology to create a new device that could make measuring blood sugar easier for people with diabetes.

Dr. Ahmad Haidar, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at McGill University, is testing a device at a kids summer camp in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que. Almost all of the attendees of the camp have diabetes.

“In one and a half months, we can come here and test on 50 campers,” Dr. Haidar told CTV Montreal. “If I did this at the hospital, it would take me two years.”

Dr. Haidar’s device is an insulin pump paired with a digital app on a mobile phone that measures blood sugar every 10 minutes. Based on the reading, an algorithm will calculate the amount of insulin needed to ensure a person’s blood glucose levels are in the appropriate range, and the insulin will be automatically released into the bloodstream.

Controlled entirely by the phone, the device eliminates the need for painful finger pricks or injections and is more discreet than a traditional insulin pump.

“The shots were hard for me,” Juliette Benoit, a camp attendee with diabetes, told CTV Montreal. “Sometimes, people were afraid of me.”

Dr. Haidar, who has been working on developing this technology at McGill since 2011, told CTV Montreal that children who used the device spent twice the amount of time in the ideal range for sugar levels and saw their instances of low blood sugar cut in half.

Children were also less stressed, Dr. Haidar said, because they didn’t have to exercise extreme vigilance in checking their blood glucose readings.

Insulin pumps deliver insulin to people with diabetes through a small tube placed under the skin over a 24 hour period. The process helps to keep blood glucose levels in the appropriate range. This prevents some of the long-term complications associated with high glucose levels, such as blindness and kidney failure, and reduces the risk of hypoglycemia, a dangerous condition that occurs when levels are too low.

With a report from CTV Montreal’s Kelly Greig