That meeting Google X staffers had with the FDA was over a new “smart” contact lens, which the search giant officially detailed on Thursday. Similar in appearance to a normal contact lens, Google’s new project is in many ways a miniature version of Glass—only this version could potentially save your life. Built with a glucose sensor, antenna, capacitor and chip, the smart contact prototypes are meant to keep track of a wearer’s glucose levels, hopefully making the life of a diabetic much less painful.
You wouldn’t tell by just looking at it, but the smart lens apparently requires tens of thousands of transistors to function; the integrated circuit is about the size of a piece of glitter, while the entire lens itself is virtually undetectable on a fingertip. Google also said the antenna is thinner than a human hair—yet with so much technology in such a tiny package, Google still says its smart contact lens can measure glucose levels once per second. The lens itself could even act as a warning system, with the potential to include a light source that would indicate to a wearer when their glucose levels are high, medium or low.
“It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype,” Google posted on its blog. “We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.”
Google said the lens is capable of broadcasting readings through radio frequencies—to an external device, for example—that wearers can easily monitor; those same radio frequencies from the external device actually power the mechanics inside the lens. Since Google’s research is no early on, the company said it’s looking for 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,” Google explained.
Google’s X labs have produced some wild ideas, from self-driving cars to Internet-connected balloons, but this latest idea might be its most groundbreaking yet. If Google can legitimately create a consumer smart contact lens that helps diabetics monitor their condition, it’ll change the health industry forever. It’s wonderful to see Google putting its resources behind causes for the betterment of mankind.