Google reveals smart contact lens for keeping an eye on tear glucose

Jan 16, 2014
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Google, particularly its Google X research arm, is unveiling yet another wearable project that it's working on. But these smart contact lenses aren't as fancy or eccentric as Google Glass but instead serve a more serious function of monitoring a person's glucose levels.

Those with diabetes or those familiar with it know that fighting the disease involves constant vigilance and monitoring. The effects of uncontrolled sugar levels can be disastrous, ranging from short-term effects like loss of consciousness, to more permanent ones like damage to eyes and other organs.

But while keeping tabs on one's sugar levels is a vital necessity, many diabetics try to put it off because of the process involved. Although some have already resorted to more advanced methods, like glucose sensors under their skins, majority still have to resort to the rather painful process of pricking their fingers to draw a drop of blood.

Google thinks it may have an easier and perhaps more fashionable solution thanks to wearable technology. Scientists theorized that other bodily fluids aside from blood also carry the necessary information to measure glucose levels. Tears, for example, are one such fluid but are also hard to get access to. But thanks to Google's new smart contact lens, that might no longer be the case. This lens consists of two layers of soft contact lens material that sandwich a tiny wireless chip and an equally tiny glucose sensor. Theoretically, this will then be able to painlessly and effortlessly collect glucose data from a person's tears, which are then transmitted to a monitoring device via a wireless connection.

Google won't be doing this alone. The tech company is talking with the FDA to make sure it gets things right and are looking for partners that have more experience in bringing products like this to the market. That said, these smart contact lenses are not the fantasy eye pieces of science fiction, so don't expect any fancy Heads Up Displays (HUD) here. At least not yet. Google does plan on integrating at least LED lights that will give the user immediate feedback should glucose levels go beyond certain limits, but that might be the current extent of technology possible at this time.

SOURCE: Google


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