Diabetes control and its tech, take 5: Abbott devices

I’m still working, on the little spare time my job lets me have, on the glucometer utilities that I recently published on GitHub supporting my main glucometer (LifeScan OneTouch Ultra 2).

Since most (but not all) the protocol for my glucometer has been implemented already, I decided to look into the other glucometer, you know, the one that they gave me because mine reported the wrong measure unit and so sprung this series of posts. It’s an Abbott FreeStyle Optium device, that supports both standard testing and β-ketone strips.

While I was looking for a TRS (mini-jack) connection on the device and found none, its website showed clearly that it supported a software to download the data. Abbott also deliver the cable free of charge, as long as you register your device on their website (which is a pretty sensible thing to do). I received the cable today, and as I suspected they did the user-proof thing: the serial port is hidden within the strip reader. The cable is USB on one side and a little strip-shard connector on the other.

As I hoped, the device is also a standard USB-to-serial adapter. While LifeScan uses PL2303 cables, which are pretty much standard and with drivers available almost everywhere, Abbott uses Texas Instruments TI3410 for their device. It is not clear to me whether this device always require a firmware, there definitely are a few entries that require an uploaded firmware, and that might be a pain point for people who cares about software purity. While the driver seemed to already list the correct USB ID for the device, as of Linux 3.21-rc4 it is not correctly recognized as it lacks a second listing of the VID/PID pair in the right table. I sent a patch for it to Greg (as he’s the maintainer for usb/serial), hopefully that will be fixed soon.

Unfortunately, there is no documentation for the protocols coming with the cable. This is a pity considering that LifeScan publishes their full protocol (even if it’s incomplete, or confusing, for many points) for each of their meters. There is Windows software for it but that’s about it. In my original post, Daniel pointed at his dumper for FreeStyle devices — but as I found out, the reverse engineering of the protocol is only valid for the older, mini-jack serial port devices, not for the new “strip port” devices like mine. I’ve now sent an email to Abbott asking them if they would share the serial protocol specification (reminding them that otherwise I’ll keep using LifeScan’s devices for which the protocol is public already).

Given that both LifeScan and Abbott do not make people pay for the device, but only for the strips, they would have all the reasons to give me the protocol so that more people can rely on their devices. Or maybe they won’t care, and I’ll have to figure out a way to sniff the protocol myself.