…A year after training the algorithm, Lewis and Leibrand started exploring how the could “close the loop” on their artificial pancreas.
If her blood glucose levels were going too high, the program would instruct the insulin pump to add the recommended insulin level from the algorithm. Lewis wouldn’t need to check if that was the correct amount or push the buttons herself — she trusts it.
The only problem was that the DIY pancreas system they had created couldn’t give commands to the insulin pump. Whatever it recommended, Lewis still had to push the buttons.
They soon assembled an “artificial pancreas” to manage Lewis’ insulin for her.
This isn’t a new organ or something inside her body, but a group of electronics that can mimic the functions her pancreas is missing. A Raspberry Pi mini computer takes data from the USB stick and glucose monitor and transfers the recommendation to the insulin pump. It’s all online, so Lewis and Leibrand can track it on their watches, although she does have to carry around a stack of electronics.
“We picked August 1 to close the loop because that’s our wedding date and because we thought it was funny,” Lewis said. “But what was most funny of all is that two weeks later, we got it working.”
The one missing piece had been finding a way to command the insulin pump to actually do something. But another engineer had figured out how to exploit a security flaw in an old Medtronic insulin pump that would let someone write commands to it. What the researcher made a big stink of as a cybersecurity scare turned out to be the missing piece for Lewis.
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