Latest from Google X department: A smart contact lens

But don't confuse Google's latest brainchild as a smaller version of Glass.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

From a floating-barge-turned-showroom to an initiative characterized by some to cheat (or at least put off) death, it almost seems that nothing coming out of Google should surprise us.

But somehow the Internet giant always manages to top itself.

Google's latest moonshot project will surely have tongues wagging for days -- or maybe opening some eyes to new possibilities would be a more apt expression in this case.

The latest project being hatched at the secretive Google X research unit is a smart contact lens.

But don't for a second confuse this project with the much flashier, soon-to-be consumer-friendly Glass.

While it doesn't stem from the Calico department, it is still a very niche project within the healthcare spectrum.

Designed specifically for people diagnosed with diabetes, the smart contact lens has been built to measure glucose levels in tears. The lens hosts a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor, both of which are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material.

The project's co-founders, Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, explained further about these details in a blog post late on Thursday, highlighting the motivations for developing a contact lens of all things to treat a chronic disease cited to afflict one in every 19 people worldwide.

Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like exercising or eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring. Although some people wear glucose monitors with a glucose sensor embedded under their skin, all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day. It’s disruptive, and it’s painful. And, as a result, many people with diabetes check their blood glucose less often than they should.

Google is already moving forward into the testing phase, but it's still a long way off from mass production.

Otis and Parviz noted that Google is still in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration while also seeking more partners and experts to eventually bring the smart contact lens to market.

Image via The Official Google Blog

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