Google has announced that it is testing a prototype for a contact lens that would help people with diabetes manage their disease.
In a press release distributed Thursday, the company said that the lens it is designing would measure glucose in tears continuously using a wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor. Google says that using the lenses would be a less invasive method of measuring glucose levels than finger-pricking.
It also claims that the more frequent testing would consequently reduce the risks associated with infrequent glucose testing such as kidney failure and blindness.
The contact lenses were developed during the past 18 months in the clandestine Google X lab that also came up with a driverless car, Google's Web-surfing eyeglasses and Project Loon, a network of large balloons designed to beam the Internet to unwired places.
“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,” Google said in its press release.
“We hope a tiny, super sensitive glucose sensor embedded in a contact lens could be the first step in showing how to measure glucose through tears, which in the past has only been theoretically possible.”
The chip and sensor would be embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material, while a pinhole in the lens would allow fluid from the surface of the eye to seep into the sensor.