Google is working on a project that can dramatically simplify the way people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar level. This will be measured using a tiny eye contact lens featuring miniaturized electronics that will capture the glucose levels in the tear liquid.
The idea to use tears comes after years of scientific investigations of various body fluids. The size and placement of the device was one of the major issues—it has to be deeply integrated into the body, be fast collecting the liquid and easy to be replaced. The solution has been inspired by regular contact lenses. The wearable medical devices based on them let diabetics check the sugar level in a much less disruptive and painful way, and as frequent as they need it.
Google has decided to use wireless “chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair” to integrate them into contact lenses. The miniaturized glucose sensor, placed between the two layers of soft lens material, will be able to access tears right where they emerge, avoiding collecting them in containers, and measure tear sugar with greater accuracy.
At the moment, Google is testing the device prototypes, while the technology is still in its very first stages of development. The team also wants to try integrating tiny LED lights that could flash up if the amount of glucose is above or below a certain line. The tech powerhouse is also in talks with the FDA, and is planning to search partners, which are experts in the field and could create smart contact lens and apps to drive the measurements from a patient’s eye directly to the doctors.