Google last week announced a new project emanating from behind the walls of its secretive Google X project. The new project comes in the form of a new high-tech contact lens with built-in sensors primed to measure glucose levels in tears. The lens also comes with LED lights that will alert users when levels get to worrisome levels. As you might have guessed, the target demographic for the new contact lens' are folks living 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 miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. 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. It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.
That's some fascinating and futuristic stuff right there. Notably, Bloomberg reported earlier this month that team members from Google X met with FDA representatives tasked with overseeing products involving the eye and products that monitor "diagnostics for heart conditions."
On a related note, Om Malik over at Gigaom has a unique take on Google's new project. Specifically, Malik argues that Google, in its zeal to rush into new high-tech ventures, often forgets about how their advances practically impact the people they're trying to help.
But after the initial excitement was over, cold reality set in. It also prompted me to ask the question: why is it that a company with such good intentions fails to ask itself very basic of questions, something a normal human being would ponder before embarking on a scientific quest?
For example, why would they ignore the fact that as a diabetes patient, it is generally recommended that I not wear contact lenses. Yes, I understand that there are many different opinions about this, but it is generally thought of as smart to not wear contact lenses, as they always carry the risk of increased complications for diabetics. And on top of that if you have say, astigmatism (like I do), then contacts are less of an option.
It's an interesting point, to be sure.