Google is working on a smart contact lens for diabetics – update

Google is working on a ‘smart contact lens’ that measures the blood sugar level of wearers’ tears. The smart lens should be able to measure blood sugar levels more reliably and even warn patients.

According to Google, the current way most diabetics measure their blood sugar levels, which is by drawing blood, is cumbersome and painful, leaving many diabetics under-shot. Research shows that tears can also be used to measure blood sugar levels, but it is difficult to collect and study tears, says Google.

google[x], a branch of Google that deals with unconventional research that previously led to Google Glass and the self-driving car, has therefore devised a contact lens with small sensors and an antenna. The sensors can measure the blood sugar value, and it is obvious that these can be transmitted via the antenna to, for example, a smartphone to be studied there. However, Google does not comment on the latter.

The company is even investigating whether small LED lights could be built into the lens to warn wearers if they have too much or too little sugar in their blood. Google has prototypes that measure blood sugar levels once a second. The company says it has already completed several studies that should help improve the prototype. It is unclear how the contact lens is supplied with power.

People have long fantasized about a contact lens version of Google Glass, Google’s ‘smart glasses’. However, according to Mark Jansen of Google, the smart contact lens is not a prelude to a lens version of Google Glass. The search giant says it will partner with medical companies to bring its smart contact lens to market.

The Google contact lens is not the first ‘smart’ contact lens, although it is known to be the first to possibly get LED lights. A Swiss company has developed a contact lens for people with cataracts so that they can receive tailor-made treatment. Swedish researchers have also developed a contact lens that extracts energy from tears and uses it as a power source. In addition, Microsoft has previously worked on a contact lens for diabetics, but that project has, as far as is known, had no effect.

Update, 10:42 AM: Google comment added.