Google Shows Off Smart Contact Lens
Published on: 17th Jan 2014
By: Ian Mansfield
Google has shown off a "smart contact lens" that it says can provide feedback to the wearer about their blood sugar levels. It's aimed at people with diabetes who routinely need to keep control of their blood sugar levels often with regular blood tests.
Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart.
Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like exercising or eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring. Although some people wear glucose monitors with a glucose sensor embedded under their skin, all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day.
It is possible to use tear-drops to test for blood sugar levels, but the collecting process has always been a problem. Google says that it has now developed the contact lens based on embedded miniature electronics to test the natural eye fluids as a base for the blood sugar levels.
The company says that it 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.
At the moment, the product is speculative, and the exact mechanism for alerting the wearer of problems has yet to be refined.
There is precedent for embedding technology into contact lenses, as back in 2008, researchers at the University of Washington were able to embed a display screen into a contact lens.
Combining the two technologies would enable a contact lens to act as a medical monitor, and display vital information right in front of the wearer's field of vision where it would be impossible to overlook.