Google's smart contact lens tracks glucose levels for diabetics

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2014
Google this week announced it has been working on a wearable device of a different kind than usual --?a smart contact lens that could measure glucose levels from the moisture on a user's eyeball.

Contact


The search giant revealed the previously unknown project in a post to its official blog, which has been under development at the skunkworks-like "Google X" lab for experimental projects. The goal, project co-founder Brian Otis and Babak Parviz explained, is to make it easier for people with diabetes to track their glucose levels.

Scientists have found ways to measure glucose through tears, but obviously collecting such bodily fluids can be difficult. That's where the concept for a wearable smart contact lens aims to be a potential solution.Google's smart lens prototype includes a wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor to get readings from the user's tears.

Google's device would include a "tiny wireless chip and a miniaturized glucose sensor" embedded between two thin contact lens layers which could be worn on the user's eye. The company's prototypes can reportedly generate one reading per second.

The company is even looking into integrating small LED lights on the lens that could serve as an early warning indicator for the wearer. If glucose levels were to go above or below certain thresholds, those embedded lights could alert the user to prevent a serious health risk.

"It's still early days for this technology, but we've completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype," Otis and Parviz explained. "We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease."

Google's project is said to be so far along that the company has even had discussion with the FDA. However, it's not expected to be available to average consumers anytime soon, with the company explaining that "there's a lot more work to do."

The smart contact lens concept from Google is one of the more advanced wearable device concepts seen yet as the trend continues to grow. Wearable devices were the highlight of this year's Consumer Electronics Show, with companies introducing watches, headsets and even rings embedded with electronic devices.

Glass


Google, of course, has made waves with its own wearable "Glass," which is currently only available to developers. That product is a head-mounted display that can allow users to view information hands-free.

Multiple rumors have suggested Apple is considering entering the wearable device market, with the most common references to a wrist-worn product that could track health data and provide users with easily glanceable information. Further driving those rumors is the fact that Apple itself has filed for ownership of the "iWatch" moniker in Japan, Russia, Mexico, and Taiwan.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    While I'm not always Google's biggest fan, I do applaud their willingness to do R&D for things a little outside their normal business. Something like this could be incredibly beneficial to many people in the future.
  • Reply 2 of 70

    Distractions.  

     

    Let me put that in perspective:  John Scully introduced the "Knowledge Navigator" video in 1987.  This is Google's Knowledge Navigator moment:  A cool idea, but the product may never come.  

     

    So whatever happend to Google's self-driving car?

  • Reply 3 of 70
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,576member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by diz_geek View Post



    While I'm not always Google's biggest fan, I do applaud their willingness to do R&D for things a little outside their normal business. Something like this could be incredibly beneficial to many people in the future.

     

    Exactly. Sometimes, people just need to step down off the Google hatebox and applaud their truly GOOD efforts. As a person with a number of family members with diabetes, this is very interesting and promising to me.

  • Reply 4 of 70

    Isaacson will wet his pants with this!

     

    Smoke and mirrors

  • Reply 5 of 70
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,643member
    You know Google is starting to look and feel like another company we all know about, Xerox who spent billions on research ideas and failed to capitalized on them since it was not core to their business.

    Google and Amazon and others need to stop talking about great ideas and actually deliver on the idea and make real money from the ideas. The idea is only good as people's willingness to buy and the money you can make from it.
  • Reply 6 of 70
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post



    Google and Amazon and others need to stop talking about great ideas and actually deliver on the idea and make real money from the ideas. The idea is only good as people's willingness to buy and the money you can make from it.

     

    As someone with a scientific background, I 100% disagree with this. R&D can benefit humanity without people making money off of it.

  • Reply 7 of 70
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,709member
    Kudos to Google but there is always a catch.
  • Reply 8 of 70
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,930member
    buckalec wrote: »
    Isaacson will wet his pants with this!

    Smoke and mirrors

    You must be referring to yesterday's story.
    http://www.phonearena.com/news/Jobs-biographer-calls-Google-more-innovative-and-says-Tim-Cook-needs-a-team_id51500
  • Reply 9 of 70
    Originally Posted by diz_geek View Post

    While I'm not always Google's biggest fan, I do applaud their willingness to do R&D for things a little outside their normal business. Something like this could be incredibly beneficial to many people in the future.

     

    I’d like it better if they shut down their normal business and ONLY did this. If they stopped being evil incarnate, I’d be really happy about their robotics purchases, self-driving cars, and medical services.

  • Reply 10 of 70
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,526member
    Peeping Tom helping an old lady cross the street.
  • Reply 11 of 70
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    richl wrote: »
    As someone with a scientific background, I 100% disagree with this. R&D can benefit humanity without people making money off of it.
    Because we're all altruistic people not motivated money. Ha! I guess that's why Google founders are billionaires?
  • Reply 12 of 70
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,937member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RichL View Post

     

     

    As someone with a scientific background, I 100% disagree with this. R&D can benefit humanity without people making money off of it.


     

    Shareholders don't disagree....

  • Reply 13 of 70
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,608member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RichL View Post

     

     

    As someone with a scientific background, I 100% disagree with this. R&D can benefit humanity without people making money off of it.


    Yes, some things need to be beyond company profits and instead be for the common good. There is a lot of societal value in 'common good'. If a profit making company develops an idea that they think fits that category and fort ahead 'because it is awesome', all power to them. This idea is absolutely potentially awesome. Whether Google has an ulterior motive or not, who knows, but I suspect this kind of effort, if developed entirely for the common good and without an eye on profit will serve Google well financially down the road in terms of monetization of auxiliary related products and services. Add to that the positive PR, keeping great employs happy and I'd think its a win win. Imagine if Apple produced something like this and how it would feed into the iWatch idea (I am sure the iWatch stands for iWatch over myself rather than iKnow what time it is).

  • Reply 14 of 70
    There are a lot of people who hate apple, and lot who hate google, buy if I were to step back from that crowd for a second.. I'd say I like googles ability to talk about cool ideas like this. The idea isn't done, and it may not benefit them to show apple and others that they were developing contact lense tech (for whatever reason, that ended up as a glucose inspector), but instead of tabling it because the profit margin isn't as big as other areas they work in they allow it out there to make a positive impact. They'll make money of course, but one day you or I could use this tech for health reasons.
  • Reply 15 of 70

    Hope they don't turn this useful idea into something evil, like "EyeAd".

  • Reply 16 of 70

    Given the US obesity rate, this could outsell their smartphone business...?  :\

    [Disclaimer: US citizen, on the obesity bubble]

  • Reply 18 of 70

    So the Futurama jokes were true:  "EyePhone"

  • Reply 19 of 70
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post

     

    So the Futurama jokes were true:  "EyePhone"


    FTW

  • Reply 20 of 70

    I don't get all the noise today about google .... so what? They track anything and everything .... DEAD or Alive!!

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