Have you had enough of Google’s self-driving cars, Google Glass, an Internet network of balloons flying through the stratosphere and other breath-taking projects started by Google? Well, here’s something quite new: A few days ago they introduced a smart contact lens project that will let diabetics measure their glucose levels. That’s smart!
Here’s a quote from Google’s blog post introducing this project on January 16th:
“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.”
The project is run by the secret Google X arm of the search giant, where they reportedly have run more then 100 research projects on different areas.
Here’s their explanation:
“Google’s smart contact prototypes squeeze a glucose sensor, antenna, capacitor and chip between two contact lens layers, making a kind of electronics sandwich. A tiny hole on the eye side allows tear film, which contains glucose, to reach the sensor.
The integrated circuit is no larger than a piece of glitter, and its weight is undetectable on the tip of a finger. The sensor, which takes glucose readings twice a second, isn’t much bigger. And the antenna is thinner than a human hair.
The components sit on top of a thin plastic-like film that is made of a biocompatible material (Google doesn’t want to disclose exactly what material that is) that holds everything together like a fiberglass circuit board traditionally would.
Google’s smart lens broadcasts its readings through radio frequencies to an external monitoring device that a test subject carries with him or her. In turn, the device powers the mechanics of the lenses through those same radio frequencies.”
The new lens is not usable technology today or tomorrow; it’s research that hopefully will lead to a very interesting and useful technology for those affected by diabetes. I’m not, but to me – as a tech guy – this is cool technology from Google. Once more. It also shows the importance of miniaturization of technology.
One last comment: Google isn’t the first company working with this type of technology. According to TechCrunch this is old news for Microsoft. A university in Malmö (Sweden) also claims to have been working with this before. Who knows, and that’s the way science work with different teams working ong the same research areas.
Go, go, go – Google!