News: scientists at the Google[x] research facility in California are working on contact lenses containing tiny electronics that could constantly monitor glucose levels in the tears of people with diabetes.
"We’re now testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturised glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material," said Google in a post published on its official blog.
The contact lenses would be able to generate a reading every second, making it possible to instantly identify potentially dangerous changes in the patient's blood sugar levels.
"We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds," the company explained.
As well as minuscule chips and sensors, the lenses could also incorporate an antenna thinner than a human hair that would communicate with apps so patients or doctors could view the measurements on a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Diabetes patients are currently required to test their blood sugar levels at regular intervals throughout the day by pricking their finger to draw a tiny amount of blood that can be analysed. The process is painful and time-consuming and can discourage people with diabetes from checking their blood glucose as frequently as they should.
"The one thing I'm excited about is that this is a device that people wear daily - the contact lens," project co-founder Brian Otis told the BBC. "For us to be able to take that platform that exists currently, that people wear, and add intelligence and functionality to it, is really exciting."
Google stressed that the technology is at a fledgling stage in its development but added that it will be seeking out potential partners who could help it refine the hardware and software required to turn the concept into reality.
"It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype," Google claimed. "We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease."
Sign up for a daily roundup
of all our stories