Google working on contact lens for diabetics

The latest foray into wearable technology could eventually eliminate the daily finger-stabbing blood tests so many diabetics dread.

By Benzinga Jan 17, 2014 2:49PM

Google's 'smart' contact lens on a fingertip (c) REX/Google
By Jim Probasco

One out of every 19 people on Earth have some form of diabetes, and for those that are affected, the Googlers at Google (GOOG) have great news.

The company is working on a "smart contact lens" that will measure glucose levels in your tears.

If you detest that once- or twice-a-day finger stab to draw a tiny amount of blood to "test your sugar," this news is nothing short of amazing. The day may come when you simply put on your contacts and go about your day.

According to Google, sensors on the smart contact lens, which are so small they look like tiny bits of glitter, would constantly measure your glucose levels. In addition, tiny LED lights would light up to warn you that levels are either too high or too low.

In a blog post Thursday, project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz said, "We're testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second."

The two added, "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."

Google said it planned to work with outside experts to develop apps designed to receive measurements taken by the lens and transmitted to a device, such as a smart watch or smartphone via a hair-size antenna. Eventually that data could also be transmitted to medical professionals for assessment and treatment options.

This research puts both miniaturization and wearable technology in a whole new ballpark. Smart watches and movie-making glasses aside, this is something that solves a problem that affects those managing a lifelong disease such as diabetes.

And, with The International Diabetes Federation forecasting that one in 10 people will be diabetic by 2035 that is not an insignificant number of people.

Chances are others will enter the space in a rush to provide ways to monitor and maintain a whole host of other conditions such as heart disease.

Some companies are already working to expand into what is widely seen as a key growth area in the future – wearable technology that helps monitor a person’s health and well-being.

A gadget called Sensible Baby was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas recently. The product consists of a sensor that tracks an infant's temperature, orientation, and movement. As expected, Sensible Baby sounds an alarm if there is a problem.

Sony (SNE), last year, filed a patent for a 'SmartWig' that could theoretically monitor temperature, pulse and blood pressure of the wearer.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.

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