So far, Google has been at the forefront of wearable technology, and this latest innovation is no exception. The company’s “smart contact lens,” which measures the amount of glucose in tears using a miniature sensor, could revolutionize the way diabetics check their blood sugar.
"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," Google said, according to USA Today.
The Google X lab works specifically on new, risky technologies. According to the Los Angeles Times, Google X lab has come up with driverless cars, a product that would use balloons to bring the Internet to obscure places, and, of course, Google glass. On Thursday, the lab broke tradition by going public with the smart contact project even though it is still in its early stages. The hope is that by announcing the innovative new lenses, Google can partner with experts who can help bring the technology to the market the way they were able to do with Google glass.
In a blog post, Google said that is in discussions with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the lenses, but they still have a long way to go before it becomes a system people can use. Their initial prototype reads blood glucose levels once every second, which could be critical to diabetics who need to closely monitor their blood sugar. The company said it took on diabetes, specifically, because they see it as a “huge and growing problem affecting one in every 19 people on the planet.” And they’re right. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the United States alone. That’s 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. These lenses, if brought into the market, could provide a more seamless way for patients and their health care providers to monitor the disease.
“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 post, written by project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, said.