Just when you thought Google couldn’t expand into yet another unthought-of market, it goes and announces a new project. This time the company that has its roots in internet search technology is taking on the medical fraternity, with contact lens technology that helps wearers keep track of their blood sugar.
In a post on the company’s blog, Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, project co-founders for the smart contact lens, detail that diabetes is already a big problem, and one that’s growing. It is estimated that by 2030 the number of diabetic patients will double, mostly due to lifestyle nutritional changes, higher amounts of sugar in everyday foods, and obesity – and currently one in every 19 people have the disease.
Otis and Parviz’s group is busy testing a smart contact lens that can measure glucose levels in tears – the fluid that’s constantly lubricating our eyeballs. The glucose sensor sends its signals to a wireless chip, which in turn could transmit the data to a connected device (Wi-Feye, anybody?). They don’t detail specifics, but do mention that one idea is to implement LEDs that could flash and alert the wearer – essentially turning the lens into an always-on monitoring device. A power source is also not mentioned, though it’s entirely possible to power a small circuit like this using the body’s own current. Currently, the company is testing its prototype and talking to the American food and drug administration (FDA) to certify it as safe for use.
This could have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for diabetics. In their post Parvis and Otis mention that some diabetics consider their condition a part-time job, as its necessary to constantly check their blood sugar levels. Something like this smart contact lens will remove that step from the process and let them lead closer-to-normal lives, with a simple warning light or smartphone app letting them know when to administer insulin.