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Google Makes Smart Contact Lenses to Help Diabetics

Hand holding - zoomed in

Image Credit: Google

When I first spotted headlines last week that Google was making smart contacts, I got excited. I thought it would be the contact lens version of Google Glass, naturally, and as a lifelong contact lense wearer I thought that would be simply fabulous.

Of course, the contact lenses that Google has in development are nothing like Google Glass, but they are still pretty cool they are hoping to use the contacts to measure blood glucose levels in order save diabetics from all those painful finger pricks which most diabetics think sounds pretty great.

Here’s what Google had to say on their company blog in a post written by the project’s founders, Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, who is a researcher at the University of Washington:

“We’re now 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. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. 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.”

An interesting thing to note: It appears that this was originally a Microsoft project back in 2011. All signs point toward this actually coming to pass, however, and diabetics that can tolerate wearing contact lenses have something to look forward to. What an interesting project! I hope it really helps people struggling with this disease.

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