Google Contact Lens is a GO

Contact lenses to help diagnose various medical conditions are uncommon but not unheard of. Google, though, is now talking about building contact lenses with wireless sensors that can track the chemical composition of tears.

The contact lens turn out to be important in fighting diabetes. Sufferers need to track their blood glucose levels closely, and scientists think that the glucose level in tears is particularly informative. Tears are hard to gather — there’s only so many sad movies you can watch in a clinical setting — so measuring them in situ is useful. Google’s Google[x] research group has developed contact lenses with tiny sensors. wireless transmitters, and antennae embedded between layers of soft contact-lens plastic. It measures glucose levels once a second. Any kind of production and testing would require FDA approval, of course, not to mention research and manufacturing partners.The medical implications are clear. Glucose levels, measured with the lenses, that go out of whack could trigger either an alarm or a wearable insulin pump (or both), obviating painful and possibly-too-infrequent finger sticks. Very cool, very forward-thinking.

Novartis has reached a deal to license the technology and build them for Google.

Under the agreement, Google will develop the electronics, which will do the chemistry and send the information to a smart phone. Novartis will make the lenses themselves, which will also be able to correct farsightedness. No word about more elaborate toric or bifocal lenses, but that’s probably getting ahead of ourselves. In passing, Novartis also suggests that the technology could be implanted in the eye itself as part of cataract treatment.

Novartis doesn’t say, but this will clearly require regulatory approval (in the US, of course, that’s the FDA). No date for an actual product was mentioned, either.

Courtesy of our partners and clients at Wearable Insider.

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