Science and Tech


Google Eyes Diabetes Battle With High-Tech Contact Lenses

Google[x]'s latest foray into seemingly impossible projects: a smart contact lens that reads glucose levels in tears.
Posted at 10:10 AM, Jan 17, 2014

Google's special projects unit, known as Google[x], has set its sights on the battle against diabetes. How? With high-tech contact lenses, of course.

​​“This prototype looks and feels like a regular soft contact lens, but inside of it we have a tiny chip and a miniaturized glucose sensor that allows us to continually monitor your glucose levels.”

The company likens managing diabetes to having a part time job — and a tough one at that.

" ... all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day. It’s disruptive, and it’s painful. And, as a result, many people with diabetes check their blood glucose less often than they should."

Google hopes to help those with diabetes by making it easier to regularly measure glucose levels in the body.

The prototype uses tears to measure glucose levels once per second. And as you can see in the image Google posted on its official blog, it includes an extremely thin antenna that can connect to an app for monitoring levels. The company is also experimenting with LED lights to notify users of changes in glucose levels.

Google has already brought the project to the FDA, but a writer for Re/code says it's going to take some time to bring a product like this to market.

"Much work lies ahead. Even overlooking the fact that this is eons away from FDA approval, it's actually not even clear that tear fluid from eyes would be a reliable indicator of glucose levels in the bloodstream."

Of course, the device is still in its early stages regardless. Google plans to partner with industry experts to improve the contact lens and get it ready for market.