google contact

Googly eyes: Smart contact lens would test glucose in diabetics' tears

Google started giving back Thursday with an announcement on its official blog that it has begun testing on a smart contact lens. Yeah, you read that right: a smart contact lens.

And while that might initially seem like a mad scientist’s side project, it’s actually incredibly cool: The smart contact lens is designed to assist diabetes patients by measuring glucose levels in their tears, using a mini glucose sensor, and transmitting that data to a phone via a tiny wireless chip.

Both the chip and the sensor are embedded between two layers of soft lens material, and the prototypes can generate a reading once per second.

While clinical research studies have already been completed, Google is still in discussions with the FDA, and the company is also looking for partners to help bring the lens to market. Google is additionally seeking partners who can help leverage the technology to develop apps that would make glucose levels available to both patients and their doctors.

Additionally, there’s some interest in integrating LED lights which would light up to indicate various glucose levels. The blog post reports that one of every 19 people on the planet suffers from diabetes, and many patients do not test their glucose levels often enough because the methods to do so have been cumbersome, or painful.

While this is an amazing medical advancement, and certain to help scores of people, it seems curious that the initial feedback to the announcement is so positive overall, in contrast to the blowback from Google’s purchase of Nest earlier this week—which was met with dozens of privacy concerns. Perhaps we’re just less worried about what we put in our eyes?

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