FreeStyle Optium

Reverse engineered by Diego Elio Pettenò.

Important device notes

The FreeStyle Optium device is a glucometer that can also read special β-ketones testing strips. This will become clear in the protocol description.

There is no option to clear the meter's memory from the FreeStyle Auto-Assist software provided by Abbott.


The Abbott FreeStyle Optium device uses a special cable, that connects through the same port as the testing strips, and puts the device into PC connection mode.

In PC connection mode, the screen will display the following:


The cable itself, as provided by Abbott, uses a TIUSB3410 USB-to-Serial adapter provided by Texas Instruments, similar to the TRS (stereo-jack) of previous versions.

The strip-port adapter is fully suppored by Linux kernel 3.14 and later. Previous kernels only support the TRS cable.


The communication protcol of this device is a serial, text-based protocol, similar to previous FreeStyle devices, but not compatible.

Serial port configuration

The serial port should be configured as such:

  • 8 data bits;
  • no parity bits;
  • 1 stop bit;
  • 19200 baud rate.

Messages and commands

The protocol knows two type of messages: commands and responses.

generic-message = command / response

Exchange is initiated by the host by sending one of the known commands. The first command sent by the host is sometimes ignored by the device, so if a single empty response is returned, the command should be retried.

The only known command that accept parameters is tim.

command = "$" *ALPHA [parameters] CR LF
parameters = "," *VCHAR

Lines are generally terminated by the CR LF sequence. Most commands are terminated by a success sequence.

command-succeeded = "CMD OK" CR LF

$colq command

The $colq command provides detailed information on the device:

colq-response = "S/N:" HTAB serial-number CR LF
                "Ver:" HTAB software-version HTAB glucose-unit CR LF
                "Clock:" HTAB date-1-sec CR LF
                "Market:" HTAB DIGIT HTAB DIGIT CR LF
                "Usage:" HTAB usage-count CR LF
usage-count-1 = 1*DIGIT

serial-number = 7( ALPHA / DIGIT ) "-" 5( ALPHA / DIGIT )
software-version = 1*DIGIT "." 1*DIGIT

glucose-unit = "MMOL" / ??? ; the output for mg/dL is not known

The usage-count is the number of readings available in the memory of the device.

Serial number, software version, market and ROM output are really opaque identifiers. The serial number is unique to the device (corresponds to the one printed on its back) and can be used to match an user to their glucometer. All these parameters are constant.

The glucose-unit of the device is reported together with the version. Note: as I live in Ireland, and the unit is specified in mmol/L, I have no idea what the string would be for glucometers in the rest of the world.

$xmem command

The $xmem command reports the content of the device's memory.

xmem-response = CR LF
                serial-number CR LF
                software-version CR LF
                date-2-sec CR LF
                usage-count-2 CR LF
                *(result CR LF)
                checksum SP SP "END" CR LF
usage-count-2 = 3DIGIT
checksum = "0x" 4HEXDIG

The usage-count-2 value matches usage-count-1, zero-padded to align at three digits.

The checksum is a simple accumulation of the ASCII values of the characters, up until the 0x literal (excluded), including the CR LF terminations.

Each result is returned in its own line complete with the timestamp and some (mostly opaque) metadata:

result = result-value SP
         SP date-2-nosec
         SP result-type
         SP "0x00"
result-value = 3DIGIT / ( "HI" SP )
result-type = "G" / "K"

The result type literal distinguishes between blood glucose (G) and β-ketones (K) test results.

For glucose results, the value is given in mg/dL, even if the glucometer is set to report mmol/L in its configuration. Conversion happens at display time, both on the device and on the software.

For β-ketones results, the unit of the value is currently unknown; where the display shows (0.2 mmol/l, the value provided is 003.)

The HI literal signify a reading that was outside the range of the device (or more likely of the strip.) For glucose results, this is unknown, where for β-ketones it is known as 8.0 mmol/l.

$tim command

Setting the time on the device is the only command that accept parameters.

tim-command = "$tim" tim-parameters
tim-parameters = "," tim-month "," tim-day "," tim-year
                 "," tim-hour "," tim-minute

tim-response = command-succeeded ; not other output

The time on the device can only be set for full minutes, without including seconds.

Years are represented in two-digits only, which are interpreted between 2000 and 2099. The device can keep track of time beyond that, as can be proven by setting the time to 2099-12-31 23:59.

The device does not suffer from Year 2038 problem.

$temp command

The device appears to contain a temperature sensor that can be accessed with the $temp command:

temp-response = "Temperature =" SP temperature SP "*C" SP "/" SP
                temperature SP "*F" CR LF
temperature = SP 2DIGIT "." 2DIGIT  ; not tested with numbers over 100.

Temperature is reported in both Celsius and Farenheit. The leading space to the number is suspected to be a padding for values over 100.

Other commands

The following commands have been identified as valid by bruteforcing (they return command-succeeded), but are not understood:

  • $cksm: returns a checksum (of memory? storage? ROM?).
  • $coly: appears to disconnect and power off the meter.
  • $dtim: no visible effect.
  • $vrom: no visible effect (verify rom?).

Date formats

This device, similarly to previous Abbott devices, implements multiple date formats, that are not interchangable:

date-1-sec = month1 SP SP day SP year HTAB timesec
date-2-sec = month2 SP day SP year SP timesec
date-2-nosec = month2 SP day SP year SP time

time = hour ":" minute
timesec = time ":" second
year = 4DIGIT
day = 2DIGIT
hour = 2DIGIT
minute = 2DIGIT
second = 2DIGIT

month1 = "Jan" / "Feb" / "Mar" / "Apr" / "May" / "Jun" / "Jul" /
         "Aug" / "Sep" / "Oct" / "Nov" / "Dec"
; In this case, months are 4-characters strings, padded by space with the
; exception of June and July.
month2 = "Jan " / "Feb " / "Mar " / "Apr " / "May " / "June" / "July" /
         "Aug " / "Sep " / "Oct " / "Nov " / "Dec "

The two formats used in the response for $xmem include the same idiosyncrasy as previous devices, in which month names are truncated to three letters and followed by a space character, with the exclusions of June and July which are written in full. This behaviour is not present in the $colq response.

Missing information

As the analyzed logs used to compile this specification are minimal, there are currently a number of "known unknowns". If anyone is able to provide further information, it would be welcome.

  • Behaviour of the device when no results are stored; since there is no command to reset the device's memory this is not currently known.
  • Expected constant to indicate the device reports values in mg/dL on its screen.
  • Whether a LO constant exists to match the HI constant. Dangerous! Don't try this yourself, only report back if you happen to have triggered it!
  • How the β-ketones results are reported by the device.
  • How the control solution results are reported by the device.