From smart watches to augmented reality glasses, there’s no shortage of new wearable technology devices these days. But there is something new to the market that’s at least a little less frivolous and a little more practical: a smart contact lens that allows diabetics to easily monitor their blood sugar.
Developed by the Google X Project, this advanced contact lens can measure the glucose in tears, providing diabetics with a painless and easier alternative for measuring blood sugar levels compared to traditional needles. The lens contains a few main components that make it work: a wireless chip, a glucose sensor, an antenna to send the results, thousands of transistors, a capacitor and two layers of contact lens material that are biocompatible.
All of the electrical components are minuscule and virtually undetectable in terms of visibility and weight. The chip and sensor are both about the size of a speck of glitter, the antenna is thinner than a human hair and the thousands of transistors can’t even be seen by the human eye. The biocompatible material encloses all of the main electronic components but includes a tiny hole to allow tear fluid to reach the glucose sensor. The glucose level readings are transmitted to an external monitoring device (the test subject carries this device) through radio frequencies. The radio frequencies are also responsible for powering the contact lens.
In the future the advanced contact lens may even include a lighting device to let the user know if their glucose levels are low, medium or high. The lens must still pass through FDA scrutiny but has the potential to help the 25.8 million U.S. citizens with diabetes.
“That’s why this has been such an exciting project for me,” Google X project lead Brian Otis reveals. “Being able to push those philosophies to the limit, while tackling something that could potentially be a huge benefit for people.”