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Google testing smart contact lens for people with diabetes

Prototype devices use miniaturised electronics to measure glucose levels

Google smart contact lens diabetes 

In a move that could take wearable health technology to a new level Google revealed last week that it is testing smart contact lens for diabetes patients.

Using chips and sensors so small they resemble bits of glitter, the lenses measure glucose levels in tears with the aim of reducing the burden of regular blood glucose tests.

Patients with type 2 diabetes should generally monitor their glucose levels, using a finger-prick test, once a day and those with type 1 diabetes may have to test their levels 10 or more times a day.

To improve that situation scientists at the company's secretive, future technology testing facilty Google[x] are testing prototypes of the wearable technology that can generate a reading once per second.

The project's co-founders, Google's Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, wrote: “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."

Otis, Parviz and their team at Google are exploring integrating tiny LED lights, that illuminate when glucose levels go above or below certain thresholds, to provide the wearer an early warning.

“We're in discussions with the FDA, but there's still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use,” Otis and Parviz said. “We're not going to do this alone: we plan to look for partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market.”

They envisage that part of such a partnership would see other companies develop apps to work with the lens to make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor.

Mobile technology developments continued apace last year, with the FDA approving J&J's Bluetooth blood glucose monitor, Sanofi planning the next phase of its iBGStar iPhone-compatible monitor and a number of companies looking to harness mobile games.

Google's own expertise in the area is led by its Google Glass smart glasses, which have shown promise as a clinical information tool. Meanwhile, proof of its commitment to, and resources for, health can be seen in its formation of Calico, led by former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson.

20th January 2014

From: Healthcare

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