Google is joining the war on diabetes.
Google's come a long way from web search and email, but every now and again the company still manages to announce a product or service that will take us totally by surprise. The company last night announced that its latest endeavor is a smart contact lens aimed at those suffering with diabetes. This contact lens will help diabetes patients by removing the need to constantly check blood sugar via a prick of the finger. Google hopes to use miniature chips and an antenna thinner than human hair to measure tear glucose.
"Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids—such as tears—in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels. But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study," project founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz wrote in a blog post. "At Google[x], we wondered if miniaturized electronics—think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy."
This smart contact lens sandwiches the necessary hardware between two layers of contact lens material and Google says the prototypes can generate a reading once per second — a frequency even the most diligent and careful diabetes patient would never be able to match with current testing methods.
It's a far cry from Google Glass in contact lens form and, for now, it sounds like all this can do is monitor glucose levels. However, if this project garners the approval of the FDA, it could help the one in 19 people suffering from diabetes to manage their disease to a point where it is minimally disruptive. Not only that, but Google wants to work apps into the equation. Imagine your contact lenses constantly and consistently feeding data on your glucose levels to your doctor and pushing alerts to your phone when your blood sugar starts to look a bit sketchy.