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Google to Help Diabetes Patients with Smart Contact Lens

By - Source: Google | B 19 comments

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.

Follow Jane McEntegart @JaneMcEntegart. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 3 Hide
    seller417 , January 18, 2014 6:27 AM
    This is pretty incredible. I used to sell diabetic insulin pumps, and this would be a game changer for many people who suffer from the disease. Hats off Google.
  • 0 Hide
    Shin-san , January 18, 2014 7:55 AM
    I would be more in favor of this if contact lenses didn't tear. Those are small, thin strips of metal in your eye instead of soft plastic
  • 0 Hide
    jasonelmore , January 18, 2014 9:00 AM
    How is this powered? off of natural RF or does it come with a special RF Transmitter that you must be close to?
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , January 18, 2014 9:41 AM
    Quote:
    I would be more in favor of this if contact lenses didn't tear. Those are small, thin strips of metal in your eye instead of soft plastic

    These are prototypes. The final versions would likely have a micron-thick metal layer that would be practically undetectable and too thin to cause any damage if you ripped the lens while wearing it.

    And the way this prototype is holding its shape, I'm guessing it is a hard lens.
  • 0 Hide
    Jim90 , January 18, 2014 11:27 AM
    Well done Google, keep working on this.I'd imagine that it might be possible to have this tech incorporated into a prescription format, allowing the user (where applicable) to continue wearing 'standard' contact lenses.
  • 0 Hide
    damianrobertjones , January 18, 2014 11:51 AM
    Let us know when they abandon the project as they've now had their free press.
  • 2 Hide
    Janpieter Sollie , January 18, 2014 12:59 PM
    Quote:
    Let us know when they abandon the project as they've now had their free press.
    exactly. Microsoft already had such a project in 2011, but never launched it ...it must have been indexed by google somehow :p 
  • 0 Hide
    edogawa , January 18, 2014 2:08 PM
    Awesome when technology actually helps people in their day to day life. It would be great if we had small chips that can be implanted in our arms that monitor blood pressure, vitals, and more! For people with heart problems it would monitor and alert 911 if it detected a heart attack or similar.
  • 0 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , January 18, 2014 5:47 PM
    I read about this earlier. This is pretty awesome. I have a feeling so much more could be done with Google Glass, such as corrective lenses, sobriety checks and I'm sure there are other tests that can be done through the eyes for a variety of ailments.
  • 1 Hide
    alextheblue , January 18, 2014 7:34 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Let us know when they abandon the project as they've now had their free press.
    exactly. Microsoft already had such a project in 2011, but never launched it ...it must have been indexed by google somehow :p 
    Yeah some guy over at Anandtech in the comments section was pointing that out. He posted a video talking about MS and UW working on this exact same thing two years ago. Yet now that Google is playing around with it, it's all over the internet like wildfire and they're being praised as innovators, despite the fact that they were far from the first. Google is becoming the new Apple.
  • 0 Hide
    guvnaguy , January 18, 2014 11:44 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Let us know when they abandon the project as they've now had their free press.
    exactly. Microsoft already had such a project in 2011, but never launched it ...it must have been indexed by google somehow :p 
    Perhaps they found the technology to be impractical two years ago and had to wait? Don't be so quick to judge
  • 0 Hide
    Janpieter Sollie , January 19, 2014 3:56 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Let us know when they abandon the project as they've now had their free press.
    exactly. Microsoft already had such a project in 2011, but never launched it ...it must have been indexed by google somehow :p 
    Perhaps they found the technology to be impractical two years ago and had to wait? Don't be so quick to judge

    come on ... I've been a diabetic patient for more than 25 years now (the genetic variant, with no insulin production at all), and I've seen the amount of type 2 patients growing every year. Microsoft must have known this too: the market potential increases every year, and explodes in regions such as the middle east, where sugar is considered the alternative for alcohol (which is is forbidden by the islam). there must have been another reason why it was not brought into the market.

  • 0 Hide
    Geef , January 19, 2014 11:46 PM
    I'll believe it when I see it.
  • 0 Hide
    msdss , January 20, 2014 3:22 AM
    This will never happen. Companies like Bayer make too much money off of test strips and meters. I would kill for something like this, but the pharmaceutical companies will ensure this is killed long before humanity can see the benefits.
  • 0 Hide
    cypeq , January 20, 2014 4:35 AM
    I wander if this will run less pastry ads when you have bad sugar levels.
  • -4 Hide
    chumly , January 20, 2014 7:22 AM
    Radio waves + brain = cancer. Cancer Cancer Cancer. Go read some research, if you use your cell phone quite often, you are 300% more likely to develop a brain tumor. That's just holding it to the soft spot on the head, the eyeball is directly connected to the brain. This is idiocy. Who the hell is regulating wearable tech? It's just not safe. Google glass is just as bad. They need to be seriously testing long term exposure on organisms before they push this stuff to the public.
  • 1 Hide
    InvalidError , January 20, 2014 11:45 AM
    Quote:
    Radio waves + brain = cancer.

    The majority of research so far has turned out inconclusive. If exposure to wireless from cellphones and other devices at 1.7GHz and up has an effect on brain cancer, it is within error margins.
  • 1 Hide
    lvmikus , January 21, 2014 9:23 AM
    Quote:
    How is this powered? off of natural RF or does it come with a special RF Transmitter that you must be close to?
    From other source:"If you're wondering how power works, one of Praviz's previous projects was a contact lens with a working LED. Power for that was described as being "powered remotely using a 5-millimeter-long antenna printed on the lens to receive gigahertz-range radio-frequency energy from a transmitter placed ten centimetres from the eye." The copper circle around the edge of this lens is most likely an inductive charging coil, so actual use of this will probably require some kind of face-mounted charging antenna."Makes the concept a little less cool if you ask me.Source: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/01/google-introduces-smart-contact-lens-project-to-measure-glucose-levels/
  • 0 Hide
    alz_solstice , February 4, 2014 12:14 AM
    I hope we can play android games with this Contact Lenses :)