Dissecting an Omnipod

My daughter approached me yesterday needing a battery for one of her small toys, and it looked very similar in size and shape to what I remembered seeing in a photo of a dissected Omnipod.

Coincidentally, the one I was wearing was just about to expire, so I pulled it off and broke out my Dremel tool and cut off the top and took it apart. It's something I've always wanted to do. It's a fascinating and impressive piece of technology. I've attached the photos below.

The batteries were the same as what she needed, and now I know where I can always find a ready supply. :-)

We have a member who used to remove the batteries and donate them for hearing aid use. Not sure if he's still doing it!

Wow are these pods one use only? How many units of insulin can be contained in a pod?

Yes, I've taken several apart, reverse-engineering it.

The pump mechanism is an SMA (shape memory alloy) wire that expands and contracts electrically to move a little ratchet mechanism back and forth advance gears and move the plunger via a screw in the reservoir.

Everything is driven by these turning gears. The cannula injector is spring-loaded, and is released as the gears turn a bit farther after priming.

There's much more... it's really a rather clever design.


Hey Dave:

It sounds like you might have a bit of a technical background. I would love to control my Omnipod with something besides the Fred-Flinstone-era-PDM. Does the pod communicate over NFC, and is it the same frequency used by the iPhone 6? It might be a pipe dream, but imagine how cool it would be to be able to control it via an iPhone app. Thoughts?


Hi Christopher! Yes, I have an electrical engineering / software background.

Unfortunately, communications between the PDM and the pod is encrypted with basically unbreakable RSA private-key encryption. So, even if the radio were a standards-based protocol, we wouldn't have any possibility to communicate with the pod and control it.

FYI, NFC == "Near Field Communications"... that particular technology is extremely short range, like centimeters. I don't know what radio tech is being used by the PDM/pod (probably 2.4Ghz of some sort, but very likely NOT Bluetooth for security reasons), but it's not NFC.

Thanks for the info Dave,
It's a neat design I have to admit, not to be inflammatory to those tubeless pumpers out there, but I would go through a pod every four days and that just seems a tad wasteful and unnecessarily expensive to me, also absorption is never as good for me after 72 hours so I'd probably be changing before then.
I admit I'm ignorant of the production costs of an omnipod VS standard cannula.

I get the logic of a tubeless pump user, e.g. "I hate being tethered to something" but I'd also dislike having a 200 unit pod stuck on my body, which surely imprints more than a tubeless cannula set would?

Such a complex design is probably more error prone than a standard cannula no?

Thanks for explaining this, Dave! I figured this would be a lot more complicated than it seems. Maybe Insulet will one day realize their core competence is in pod, not PDM design, and allow control via smartphone.

Indeed! The PDM reminds me of my very first Blackberry from 10 years ago. It's about the same size and the interface is just as primitive.

Hey Buckley83:

Firstly, I like the Triumph as your profile photo. Great bike. Do you ride one?

Frankly, I'm not a big fan of any type of pump. I prefer MDI because I don't like either option stuck to my body - tubed pump or Omnipod. Also, I'm not particularly fond of relying on it all working. I properly dosed basal injection gives me much better peace of mind.

Having said that, however, I will use the Omnipod when I travel. I have to do quite a bit for work. I find that my basal requirements can vary dramatically when I'm in significantly different time zones, and the Omnipod allows quick and easy basal adjustments. Secondly, it's much more discreet than whipping out all my kit when I'm sitting in a meeting or business dinner.

I am pretty satisfied with the reliability of the Omnipod. I have one fail relatively rarely. Of course, its always at the worst possible time, :-)

I usually place it on the back of my arm. The size and design are pretty impressive. I usually forget its even there when I'm wearing one.

I agree with you - I'm not particularly fond of the disposable design. They could just as easily develop a unit that plugs into a disposable cradle/set/cannula. Maybe one day.

All the best,


Good points Christopher.

I'm actually considering a return to MDI, due to the reasons you mention.

I'm also with you on the discretion element, the main reason I went with the accuchek combo from Roche was that it enabled me to make adjustments to the pump with a Bluetooth remote whilst at client sites.

I've only seen the Mk1 pods and they seemed rather large at the time, but I think the one you have pictured is much more discreet looking.

Regarding the bike, yes just bought a new Triumph Explorer, finally said goodbye to sportsbikes and embraced my inner Granddad. :)

It's not a Ducati Panigale, but with me being 6ft 4 it's very comfortable, very torquey and handles a whole lot better than I thought it would. The plan it to take it round Europe for several weeks in the Spring, which is something I am really looking forward to.

Hey Buckley83:

Indeed, any pump is better when trying to be discreet. As a fellow motorcyclist, I also forgot to mention my preference for the Omnipod when I'm riding. There too I find my basal requirements drop, and if I'm on MDI I'm often gulping glucose tabs to keep from going low. My Omnipods performed quite well when I rode a GS800 across the Namibian desert for two weeks in 100+ F degree heat last year. This is also where my Frio packs proved their worth in keeping my insulin from spoiling.

Your Triumph is an excellent choice. I keep a KTM990 Adventure and a BMW HP2 Enduro in my garage. Still kept the sportbikes too, but I realized a long time ago riding them on the street only gets me into trouble, and hence, only ride them on track days.

I did a tour of the Austrian, Swiss, Italian and French Alps on a CBR900RR when I lived in Germany many years ago. Some of the most amazing twisty roads in the world. Your bike will handle them brilliantly. Enjoy!

All the best,


Nice work, especially with the desert riding, I'd have been eating lots of sand! My off road skills are in need of improvement.

I still have an old cbr900RRW and a S1000RR, the blade was my first proper sports bike and can't bring myself to get rid of it, as you say track days only!

Also love the KTM brand, had a 1290 superduke for abit and it made me (well erm, I rode it like) ride like an absolute hooligan, what a fun machine!

I was torn between the new GS1200 adventurer and the Triumph, rode both back to back and went with the Triumph in the end, just loved the engine. Not sure it's as durable as a GS, but in all honesty I won't do much off road riding. Plus the Triple engine is lovely and it's British (two words rarely used in the same sentence).

Good choice on the HP2, amazing suspension set up and I imagine it will hold its value or perhaps appreciate with time.

Anyway I am rambling and somewhat off topic.

Take care, ride safe.