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[IP] Google testing contact lens that measures glucose levels

Pretty cool stuff


You've probably heard that diabetes is a huge and growing problem-affecting
one in every 19 people on the planet. But you may not be familiar with the
daily struggle that many people with diabetes face as they try to keep their
blood sugar levels under control. Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk
for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer
term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. A friend of ours told
us she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and
drove her car off the road.

Many people I've talked to say managing their diabetes is like having a
part-time job. Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like
exercising or eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are
dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring. Although
some people wear glucose monitors with a glucose sensor embedded under their
skin, all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of
blood throughout the day. It's disruptive, and it's painful. And, as a result,
many people with diabetes check their blood glucose less often than they

Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids-such as
tears-in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose
levels. But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At
Google[x], we wondered if miniaturized electronics-think: chips and sensors so
small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human
hair-might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with
greater accuracy.
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

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. We're not going to do
this alone: we plan to look for partners who are experts in bringing products
like this to market. These partners will use our technology for a smart
contact lens and develop apps that would make the measurements available to
the wearer and their doctor. We've always
said<http://investor.google.com/corporate/2004/ipo-founders-letter.html> that
we'd seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange, and at a time
when the International Diabetes
Federation<http://www.idf.org/sites/default/files/Global_WDD_Final.pdf> (PDF)
is declaring that the world is "losing the battle" against diabetes, we
thought this project was worth a shot.

Posted by Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, project co-founders

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