Long gone are the days when Google was just a search engine company. It’s latest announcement from the Google X Labs couldn’t be further from online marketing but is potentially just as life changing – albeit for a smaller group of humans, namely those that suffer with diabetes.
Google’s new contact lens, currently in prototype testing phase, uses a wireless chip and tiny glucose sensor to measure the amount of glucose in a wearer’s blood and relay that information to the wearer potentially through tiny LED lights.
It’s not the first time measuring glucose through body fluids has been considered. As Google itself acknowledges, tears have long been acknowledged as great source of information but they’ve been difficult to access. The fluid surrounding the eye seems to work just as well.
The lens itself is made up of two layers of soft contact lens material, between which lies a glucose sensor and antenna thinner than a human hair. The sensor is so small it looks like ‘a piece of glitter’ to the wearer – a small price to pay for many sufferers who are currently wearing glucose monitors under their skin or pricking their finger throughout the day to test glucose levels.
Because of the intense amount of work required to effectively manage diabetes many sufferers do not manage their glucose levels like they should and put their health at risk. Sufferers have been reported to black out at high-risk moments such as when driving a car or crossing a street.
The project’s co-founders, Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, say they are motivated by close relative’s stories of how diabeties affects sufferers on a day to day basis and recent announcements from the International Diabetes Federation declaring that the world is ‘losing the battle’ against diabetes.
“We thought this project was worth a shot. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.” Say the two co-founders on Google’s official blog.
Google will look for project partners to assist in bringing the technology to market and develop apps that highlight the measurements to both the wearer and their doctor. They acknowledge the project is a bit speculative and strange but affirm Google’s commitment to seeking out those projects – particularly those that could benefit pockets of humanity.
Although this feature has yet to be integrated and tested, low levels could be highlighted to the wearer early with the integration of small LED lights, lighting up when levels cross over or under certain measurements.
While it’s still early days and the product won’t be seen on the market for a significant period of time, the researchers have conducted multiple clinical studies that have helped to refine the initial prototype.
Could this signal a new era for diabetes sufferers? Or will the technology prove too intrusive and difficult to bring to market? What do you think?
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