The view on another planet

This is not a post on which is better technology. That is something that can be discussed and debated with no end. This is just a thought-piece on what our perception is on new technology. Does “new” automatically make us think it is better?

An absurd story, with a purpose. Just to examine our perception

The view on another planet:

On a distant planet, somewhere in a parallel universe…

Somewhere on another planet, diabetics had to test their alien pee to know what their alien blood sugar was. It wasn’t a very good test. It was 2-4 hours behind what their actual blood sugar was. And it wasn’t very accurate - just a blue, green, or orange color to tell them if they were low, medium, or high. But it was all they had, so they used it.

Decades later, a new technology was invented. It was referred to as IBM - Interstitial Blood Monitoring. It was a good improvement but it wasn’t perfect. It wouldn’t tell them their actual current blood glucose level, it was about 20-30 minutes behind. But a 20 minute lag time was better than the 2-4 hour lag of urine testing. The IBM wasn’t always very accurate, occasionally the readings were way off. They had to calibrate it twice a day. And they also had to wear a piece of hardware stuck to their body so they could get the IBM readings. But the aliens really liked the pretty graphs it made.

Then, a few decades later, the latest technology came out for the diabetic aliens. It was tremendous. It was a new way of checking their blood sugar. They called it an AG meter which stood for Alien Glucose. They were able to get their AG values instantly. No 20-30 minute lag time. And they didn’t have to have a piece of hardware stuck to them! It also required no calibration. And as long as they had a good AG meter and had clean alien appendages (alien fingers), their readings were fairly reliable. They loved this latest technology. No hardware stuck to their body! No delay! No calibration! And accurate results! It didn’t have pretty graphs, and they had to wake up to check their AG, and had to poke their fingers, but that didn’t matter to the aliens.

Is this a foolish story? Maybe.

But how much of what we consider “better” is simply because it is “new”.

If somebody knew nothing about iPhones, and you showed them an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 6, and asked them which is the newer one, is it possible they might think the much smaller one (the iPhone 4) was a huge advance over the bigger one?

If somebody knew nothing about CGM and BG testing, and you wrote an accurate and detailed description of them both, which would they say is better?

Personally, I think having both CGM and BG testing together will always be better than having only one by itself.

The point of this is not to debate which is better. I just want to bring this up for discussion. Are we just conditioned to think new stuff is better?

I don’t think new is necessarily always better.

Our friends, the aliens on a distant planet, have a different perspective than us.

Why? Is it because the AG meter came after IBM instead of before? Are the aliens wrong? Are we wrong?

Again for emphasis:
The point of this is not to debate which is better. I just want to bring this up for discussion. Are we just conditioned to think new stuff is better?


@Eric The aliens were obviously missing the point of the IBM, which is to present a trend of alien blood glucose, not necessarily an absolute number.

They were, unfortunately, not so willing to use the two technologies, one for a trend and the other for an absolute number, simultaneously.

Subsequently, many highs and lows were not properly treated and the aliens started looking for better and better technology. Eventually, they even found a cure for their disease making the meter discussion moot.

But @docslotnick, this is what I am looking for:

@Eric New stuff is not going to have as much value to us if it is only different, not really better.

A case in point is the insulin pump. I recognize its value, but I never jumped on the bandwagon because MDI was serving me well. I also think that the closed loop system is a serious accident waiting to happen.

So I think for many people the lure of “new is better” doesn’t necessarily hold water.

P.S. I’m still using a Samsung Note4 as my primary computer. This is a three year old phone and there have been several new phones introduced since then. I’m way past upgrade eligibility for a “new and improved” phone, but I have yet to see one that would make me switch.


Hmm. You are making me think now. This is really an interesting perspective, Eric.


@Eric Thanks for posting.

I tend to concur that “newest” or “latest” is not necessarily better. (Sadly, I’ve been wanting to purchase the Samsung Note 4, which is no longer being sold by the manufacturer. It has many benefits that are personally more important to me than many of its successors.)

For example, clothing detergents undergo formulation changes often. The “new improved” may address a specific “soil” better than its predecessor. However, on an overall cleaning evaluation may not be better.

Many product “innovations” may be sales & marketing driven; not necessarily technologically driven. Oftentimes, I’ve lamented that the manufacturers bring back the old, original version (for example, Coca Cola).

I am looking forward to some of the advances being made in insulin patches, or glucose monitoring using saliva samples. To me, those would be game changers and somewhat disruptive. :slight_smile:


Yes, I think we’re conditioned to think new is better, and while the young people come up, they’ll have nothing to compare it to, and as the old grow older, they’ll tend to be nostalgic and yearn for the times when things were better made.

New often IS better, but the status alone is no guarantee. In the case of meters and CGMs, as you guys pointed out, you really can’t single out one as being more beneficial than the other (I sport them all, and they work nicely as a team), but I CAN tell you I would have to have that meter torn from my hands if I were told I could only keep one on my body. Although meter technology seems to have reached its limit, it produces a generally meaningful product… a meaningful value. Sensor technology, though newer and with continued potential to improve, is not quite as valuable a device… for ME. With meters, I only know where I am at the moment, which leaves me vulnerable in making decisions affecting the future, but with sensors, I’m often behind the curve… chasing.

I know this wasn’t a meter vs sensor debate, but it’s how I feel about new vs old diabetes technology. But like the young people coming up (I’m not youthful in years but a mere adolescent in diabetes), I’ve got nothing to compare these things to. In this case, it leaves me a little unforgiving about the shortcomings of these devices for which I pay and on which I rely. Never peed in a tube and noted color change. Maybe I’d trust that better than my CGM, too, though. :smiley:

1 Like

Interesting. I’d definitely choose the no-calibration G6 with no meter over a meter with no CGM. I really depend on those graphs to understand what is happening and surf my way towards a good BG.

1 Like

I would, too. I should’ve clarified WHICH CGM I’d be willing to part with. You depend on your graphs, I’ve learned not to trust mine.

I CAN get that from my calibration factor… but that’s for another night’s conversation. :slightly_smiling_face:

You can also get trend with two BG tests 15 minutes apart. I’ve been doing that forever. I am not sure why the idea that getting trend from a CGM is new, but I heard that a lot from the Dexcom ads.


Absolutely. Recently when I was on holiday and didn’t want to be pestered (audibly and psychologically) by my Dexcom, I switched it off but periodically during the day tested once, then 10 or 15 minutes later, and then 10 or 15 minutes after that. It gave me a good picture of where I was headed. I managed perfectly well for two weeks. Granted, I didn’t have a complete picture, but it made me wonder how much I actually needed the complete picture.


Thin gruel. It only gets you the point measurement plus slope. It doesn’t tell you convex/concave and it doesn’t indicate if the curvature is tightening or straightening out. When surfing, those two modify the intensity of treatment.


Back to the original question (I’m a year late coming to this one): one word:. Marketing. … Ok, I can’t leave with just one word. This topic is a kind of hot button issue for me, these days with my early-onset cranky old buzzard disorder (needs an acronym). We are constantly pushed along to get the newest, latest, greatest of everything, which sometimes isn’t better, and always leaves us partially unsatisfied. This is the job of marketers- encourage us to buy something new, and possibly improved… Whether we need it, or can afford it, or not. Another underlying cause is that of materialism, but that’s a topic unto itself.

By the way, I recently priced out the full cost of a year’s worth of a G6 system, just out of curiosity. I don’t have the numbers with me, but it was North of $600 per month, somewhere around $7500 annually. I guess if I really feel the need for CGM, I’ll go with the libre system, for like 10% of the cost… But at this point, I don’t NEED it.

Was that a best-case or worst-case estimate? In other words, did you plan on restarting transmitters and sensors, or just throwing them out when they reached their time limits? And did you use list prices, or the discounted prices that Dexcom’s direct-pay customers get when they sign up to the auto-ship program?

COB disorder

1 Like

Yet another tool leaving me wondering why I put up with my CGM’s abuse. I do that, too, Eric… just all day long. :grin: who needs CGM? Overrated.

1 Like

And I can get it from my calibration factor… so yesterday I was at a 76 and on my way out the door to my son’s open house. Was about to grab something to give myself a little bump but decided to look at my factor… a 6.94. That’s high and means I’m rising. I hadn’t eaten anything recently enough to explain it, but I know what it means… so I decided to just head out on it. A couple of minutes later I was a 91. Two hours later I was back to a 70-something and DID need to treat. Treating at that first 76 would’ve changed the entire two hours…

That’s magic. And I sure do have a lot of problems for all the answers I’ve got. :thinking:

1 Like

Bkh:. Don’t know much about the system. I’m just basing this off what I was quoted. They said a box of sensors ($400) lasts a month, and a transmitter ($600) lasts 90 days. The receiver (about $500, i believe) has a one year warranty.

These prices were from edgepark medical supplies, who had my insurance info (Dexcom is out of network with my high deductible plan)

I haven’t bothered learning about this because it sounded like it was something unique to the Medtronic system.

Would you like to create a Wiki about it?

Might be useful for people to read about.

1 Like

What’s a wiki?