Google is working on a new type of contact lens that can measure a person’s glucose levels in tears. The tech giant is hoping that this will soon be used diabetes patients in the near future. A functional prototype of the device was revealed last week with doctors saying that it will soon replace the glucose monitors implanted under the skin and even the finger-pricking blood tests.
Google’s smart contact lenses come with a tiny computer chip that has a glucose sensor and an antenna that is thinner than a strand of hair. Radio waves in the air powers the device which sends out information to a smartphone or other similar device. Right now the lens can take glucose readings once every second.
Those concerned about their data should be pleased to hear that Google will not be storing any data on their servers as per its announcement. Data from the lenses going to a paired device cannot be manipulated and has several safeguards built-in. This is extremely important since a wrong data sent may have fatal consequences if a patient injects an incorrect dose of insulin.
There is also a safeguard against overheating so that the device will not damage a patient’s eyes.
According to Google co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz “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 should.”
“At Google, 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.”
Right now the company is working to make the device more accurate as well as conductiong more studies and tests on its usability.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that there are more than 3 million Americans who have type 1 diabetes. This is the type of diabetes where the body does not produce insulin which is required to convert sugar and starches into energy.