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Google to Help Diabetes Patients with Smart Contact Lens

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.

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  • seller417
    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.
    Reply
  • Shin-san
    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
    Reply
  • jasonelmore
    How is this powered? off of natural RF or does it come with a special RF Transmitter that you must be close to?
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    12471314 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • Jim90
    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.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones
    Let us know when they abandon the project as they've now had their free press.
    Reply
  • Janpieter Sollie
    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
    Reply
  • edogawa
    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.
    Reply
  • JOSHSKORN
    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.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    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.
    Reply