App developer Cardiogram and the University of California, San Francisco teamed up for the new study, which involved 14,000 users of both Apple Watch and Android Wear.
As reported by CNET.com, it used health sensor data to train DeepHeart - a deep neural network which has previously been successful with discovering atrial fibrillation, hypertension and sleep apnea - to differentiate "between people with and without diabetes".
Cardiogram co-founder Brandon Ballinger has detailed the importance of the discovery, and why it is important to look into anything that could help detect the disease.
He said: "According to the CDC, more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with prediabetes or diabetes. 1 in 4 of those with diabetes are undiagnosed and, even worse, 88.4% of people with prediabetes don't realize they have it.
"While there have been many attempts to build special-purpose glucose-sensing hardware to detect diabetes, this is the first large-scale study showing that ordinary heart rate sensors--when paired with an artificial intelligence-based algorithm--can identify early signs of diabetes. By detecting diabetes earlier, we can help people live longer and healthier lives. (sic)"
The study notes that the findings can apply to the "heart rate censors you're wearing already", citing the likes of Apple Watch, Android Wear, Garmin and Fitbit.