Google's smart contact lens measures glucose levels in tears

Google is working on a smart contact lens that could help people with diabetes monitor their blood glucose levels.

We've had Google Glass, but now Google has more designs on your peepers. It's testing a smart contact lens that can measure the levels of glucose in the wearer's tears. It's hoped that in future it will help people with diabetes "manage their disease", the company said in a blog post.

The lens uses a tiny wireless chip and glucose sensor embedded between two layers of lens material. Google is also working on building in tiny LED lights that could light up when glucose levels have reached certain thresholds. But we're a way off actually seeing it for sale.

"It's still early days for this technology," the company said, "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."

At the moment, people with diabetes have to prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day to monitor their glucose levels. It's not ideal, but it's necessary, as glucose levels change with regular activity like eating, exercising and sweating. Spikes and drops in glucose levels can cause short- and long-term damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart.

Google claims the chips and sensors in its contact lens are "so small they look like bits of glitter", and the antenna is "thinner than a human hair". Its prototype can generate a reading once every second.

Google is on the hunt for partners to help bring the device to market -- these partners will also help develop apps to make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor.

Google recently bought Nest , the maker of an Internet-connected thermostat.

Is this the next step in wearable tech? What do you think of the project? Let me know in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.

About the author

    Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.


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