Google has announced that it has been working on a wearable smart contact lens that can measure a person’s blood sugar levels from the moisture on their eyeball.
Last year Google unveiled Google Glass that ads a screen over a wearers eye in the form of glasses, whch can then show a variety of pieces of information such as directions or just about anything else you may currently use your smartphone for – all controlled by voice commands. But these Google smart lenses are a completely different beast – focused on user healthcare.
The smart lens comes out of the Google X lab for experimental projects, with the goal of helping diabetics more easily and subtly monitor the glucose levels in their blood according to project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz.
Scientists have previously found ways to measure glucose levels through tears, but collecting such bodily fluids can be difficult, and a contact lens always connected to the eye makes that job a lot easier. The lens could then have miniature LEDs to show whether levels are high or low to the wearer – although this is a future stage of the project.
Whilst the announcement does not mention how the device is powered, a clue could come from Praviz’s previous work at creating a contact lens with a working LED powered using a 5mm antenna printed onto the lens to receive gigahertz-range radio frequency energy from a transmitter placed near the eye. The coper ring on the picture of the lens above may well be just this type of antenna.
Otis and Parviz explained:
“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.”
Google is currently in discussions with the Federal Drug Administration in the US about bringing the device to market, although it will not likely be available to consumers anytime soon.