Google unveiled a prototype contact lens that measures glucose levels in tears, providing a non-invasive alternative to monitor glucose in diabetic patients.
In the prototype, a sensor, transistor chips and an antenna are sandwiched between contact lenses. The sensor measures glucose levels in tears and can send the data to a mobile device via the antenna. The device receives power wirelessly.
The lenses have been under development over the past 18 months in the Google X lab, but the the research started at the University of Washington under National Science Foundation funding.
“You can take it to a certain level in an academic setting, but at Google we were given the latitude to invest in this project,” Brian Otis, project lead at Google X, said in a Washington Post report.
“The beautiful thing is we’re leveraging all of the innovation in the semiconductor industry that was aimed at making cellphones smaller and more powerful.”
The current prototype generates a reading every second. The developers are looking to integrate LED lights that flash as soon as glucose levels fall or rise beyond safe thresholds.
“It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype,” Otis said in a Daily Mail report.
The research team has begun discussions with FDA, but Google writes in its blog that the prototype will take at least five more years to reach consumers.