Forget Google Glass: the web giant is working on an actual contact lens to insert into your eye.
Don’t panic, though: it’s not a new kind of wearable gadget designed for social sharing or using as a remote for your phone. Instead, it’s to track diabetes.
Specifically, Google plans to use the new contact lens it’s developing to track glucose levels in diabetes patients. From Google’s blog:
You’ve probably heard that diabetes is a huge and growing problem—affecting one in every 19 people on the planet. But you may not be familiar with the daily struggle that many people with diabetes face as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. A friend of ours told us she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and drove her car off the road.
We’re now testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. 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.
We’re in discussions with the FDA, but there’s still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use.
Of course, the learnings from this will probably help Google commercialise consumer-level technology on the eye in future which is completely terrifying. More so than the fact that Google is now in your home and making military robots.
Google will look for research partners to help it bring this to market to turn the tide in the “losing battle” against diabetes.