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Google Contact Lens Could Monitor Glucose Levels

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 30 Jan 2014
Image: The prototype Google smart contact lens (Photo courtesy of Google).
Image: The prototype Google smart contact lens (Photo courtesy of Google).
Google (Mountain View, CA, USA; www.google.com) has announced a smart contact lens that can detect glucose levels via the wearer’s tears, and alert them when levels dip or rise.

The smart contact lens is under development by Google[x], the company’s clandestine division dedicated to difficult, future-looking projects, which also developed Google Glass, the self-driving car, and internet balloons. The lens is designed to work via a small wireless chip and glucose sensor embedded between two pieces of soft material. The technique used to measure glucose levels is called amperometric sensing, which involves measuring the changes in tiny currents between the two sets of electrodes. All the electronics and sensors are located outside the central area of the lens, to avoid interference with the wearer's vision.

The current prototype puts out a reading once a second. Google is also interested in integrating light emitting diodes (LEDs) into the lens, which could light up or flash to alert the wearer of dangerous glucose levels, and eventually overlay information directly onto the wearer's field of view. However, the small size of the contact lens means that the pixels will have to be much smaller than those in a typical computer monitor or mobile phone display in order to provide a similar resolution.

The motivation for the project, according to the project leaders, is that glucose levels change frequently with normal activity such as exercising, 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 sensor embedded under their skin, all diabetics must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day, a disruptive, painful procedure that results in many people with diabetes checking their blood glucose less often than they should.

“It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease,” posted project co-founders Brian Otis, PhD, and Babak Parviz, PhD, in the official Google blog. “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 first smart contact lens, called Triggerfish, was created by Sensimed (Lausanne, Switzerland), a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The wirelessly powered contact lens is designed to help people with glaucoma manage their treatment. It does this by continuously measuring the curvature of the eye over a 24-hour period using a strain gauge based on micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) technology, which is incorporated into the lens.

Related Links:

Google
Sensimed 



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