Google Taps Novartis To Develop Smart Contact Lens for Diabetics

Jul 15, 2014 04:12 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Google has partnered with the Swiss drug company Novartis to develop a smart lens that will monitor glucose levels in people who are diabetic.

The tech giant's connected contact lens, which is equipped with tiny sensors and microchips, has been in the works for a while, and the deal with Novartis marks the next step in bringing the product to market.

Google has reached an agreement to work with the pharmaceutical company's Alcon eye care unit, CNET reported.

"We're now testing a smart contact lens that's built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material," project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz said in a blog post in January when Google announced the new development. "We're testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second."

The connected contact lens is intended to help people with diabetes, who are currently forced to prick their skin multiple times a day to monitor their glucose levels. Failure to keep close track of glucose endangers a diabetic's eyes, kidneys and heart.

While the project has a ways to go, Google has been in talks with the Food and Drug Administration.

"Alcon and Google have a deep and common passion for innovation," Alcon division head Jeff George said in a statement. "By combining Alcon's leadership in eye care and expertise in contact lenses and intraocular lenses with Google's innovative 'smart lens' technology and groundbreaking speed in research, we aim to unlock a new frontier to jointly address the unmet medical needs of millions of eye care patients around the world."

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