Google’s smart contact lens
Google and Alcon, Novartis’ eye care division, develop a smart contact lens that might be a relief for diabetics. This project enables Google to access the digital healthcare market, a guarantee of a promising future for the years to come.
Google[x], the team developing the project, built a smart contact lens whose sensor measures continuously glucose levels in tears. Thanks to a tiny wireless chip diabetics receive information on their blood sugar levels to a mobile device. Tiny LED lights might be added to the lens. Their role will be to warn the patient in case of abnormality of glucose levels. This non-painful glucose motoring system would allow diabetics to have a better quality of life.
The accuracy of the system is important to diabetics’ lives and healthcare decisions. Also, it is not to forget that FDA approval is a prerequisite because the lens is conceived for medical use. Due to the reasons mentioned above, a series of rigorous testing is to be expected. As a consequence, the commercialization of the product is expected in at least five years.
Google’s research for a partner started at the beginning of the year with the revelation of its project. Further development and commercialization was to be undertaken by the latter.
In July 2014, Novartis confirmed the licensing agreement of the new technology. The company also aims the application of the lenses to presbyopia. A potential restoration of the eye’s natural autofocus would allow people with presbyopia to see close without glasses.
Google declared that it would use the technology of miniaturization of electronics in order to expand in other healthcare fields. Its laboratory Google[x] is to develop “solutions to big global problems”. For the time being, Google[x] works on a self-driving car, speech recognition, balloon powered internet access, wind power, technology for connected objects to name a few. There is nothing left but to expect the outcome of their new products.
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Anna PLESSA, étudiante au master 2 droit de l’économie numérique.