Google developing smart contact lens for diabetics

January 20, 2014 // By Peter Clarke
Google is testing a contact lens that can help sufferers of diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. The lens has been designed to measure glucose levels in tears using an embedded wireless sensor that can also transmit the result to a local receiver, the search engine company said in a blog posting.

Google said the glucose sensor and wireless transmitter are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material and that is has developed a prototype that can transmit one reading per second.

The blog did not indicate the principle of operation, how the electronics within the contact lens are powered, or how accurately the system measures glucose levels in the wearer. The system appears to have similarities to the Triggerfish technology developed by Sensimed AG (Lausanne, Switzerland) in 2010 and which uses a strain gauge within a contact lens to measure intraocular pressure as a means to manage glaucoma.

However the poster said that the project is also investigating the possibility of embedding light emitting diodes (LEDs) in the lens to provide a direct early warning system for the wearer if glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds.

The blog authors – Brian Otis and Babak Parviz – said they have completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping refine the prototype and that they are in discussions with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, the project will probably brought to market by a partner with medical market experience. "We're not going to do this alone: we plan to look for partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market. These partners will use our technology for a smart contact lens and develop apps that would make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor," the bloggers said.

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