Google is developing a "smart" contact lens to monitor blood sugar levels through the wearer's tears.
Monitoring blood sugar levels for diabetics, at this point in time, involves testing the blood — a method that is invasive and painful, meaning many don't test as often as they should. Yet a drop or a spike in blood sugar can be very dangerous.
The Google X research laboratory is developing what it hopes will be a better way, providing round-the-clock monitoring. Its proposed solution is a contact lens with tiny, fleck-of-glitter-sized sensors that can be constantly monitoring eye fluid to detect any changes in blood sugar.
Of course, monitoring on its own in a vacuum isn't necessarily useful. To this end, Google will be experimenting with integrating tiny LEDs that could notify the person of any changes.
"It's still early days for this technology, but we've completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype," project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz wrote on the Google blog. "We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease."
There's still a lot of work to be done; as Otis and Parviz point out, getting enough tears for analysis has been a problem in the past, so there's no way of knowing if blood sugar levels can even be detected that way. However, the company is seeking FDA approval for trials, and is seeking partners to help develop the technology.
"These partners will use our technology for a smart contact lens and develop apps that would make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor," Otis and Parviz said.