MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google is 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, according to a blog outlining the project posted Thursday.
"Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids — such as tears — in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels," wrote project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz. "But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google, we wondered if miniaturized electronics — think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair — might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy."
According to the post, the prototypes being tested will generate a reading once per second and will potentially serve as an early warning for the wearer: "[W]e’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds," the bloggers wrote. "It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies [that] are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease."
The group currently is in discussions with the Food and Drug Administration and is in search of partners to help take the potential prototype to market.
"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 authors concluded.