Finger pricks and careful eating are an important part of the daily routine for most people with diabetes. While automated glucose meters are a growing option, they can still create discomfort and other inconveniences.
Google[x] wants to go in a totally different direction with a project announced today: smart contact lenses that can detect glucose levels via the wearer’s tears and alert them when levels dip or rise.
“It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease,” project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz wrote in a blog post.
This isn’t the first smart contact lens, and several options already exist for people interested in monitoring glaucoma. But Parviz, who also leads the Google Glass team, is a smart contact pioneer and Google[x], which is a secretive division of Google dedicated to difficult, future-looking projects, has a reputation for ably pursuing projects like this.
The lens works via a small wireless chip and glucose sensor embedded between two pieces of soft material. The current prototype puts out a reading once a second. Google is also interested in integrating an LED light, which could light up to alert the wearer of dangerous glucose levels.
The lab is now looking for parters to help bring the lens to market. It would also like to develop an app that would help wearers read and manage the data the lens takes in.
“We’ve always said that we’d seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange, and at a time when the International Diabetes Federation is declaring that the world is “losing the battle” against diabetes, we thought this project was worth a shot,” the co-founders wrote.