Google Contact Lenses Are Now Official

    January 18, 2014
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

We reported two years ago that Google contact lenses were likely on the way, after Glass was unveiled, and finding that one of the engineers had previously given a talk discussing such devices.

Now, Google has actually announced smart contact lenses. It’s not what you think though. It’s not the contact lens version of Google Glass. At least not yet.

Google’s contact lenses have to do with health – specifically keeping glucose levels under control for diabetics.

“Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids—such as tears—in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels,” write Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, the project’s co-founders (Parviz being the engineer mentioned above). “But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google[x], we wondered if miniaturized electronics—think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy.”

“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,” the two explain. “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.”

Google did not even bring up Google Glass in the announcement, but that’s not to say the technologies couldn’t merge in the future. Who’s to say they’re not already working on it? First of all, watch Parviz’s presentation. He’s clearly thinking bigger with contact lenses, and he outlines some pretty incredible possibilities, which could make these things (and Glass, for that matter) a great deal more useful. My favorite example is the “super vision” idea.

Other concepts he discusses include: gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, interfacing with mobile, night vision, and multi-focal electronic contact lenses.

There’s a lot of potential with this technology, and now that Google actually has something to show off, even if it’s still testing, it suggests that this kind of stuff may be closer than we thought. If you thought Glass turned people into cyborgs, wait for this stuff. Of course Google is buying up robotics companies left and right too, not to mention Nest, makers of smart home devices like thermostats and smoke alarms. Imagine if these things interfaced with Google contact lenses. Who knows what Google will let you do in the future? Wink to adjust your heat? Be alerted within your actual field of vision when there’s a fire in your home?

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Right now, Google’s contacts have a specific purpose, and it will have to prove their legitimacy there first. The company is currently in discussions with the FDA, and admits that there’s still a lot more work to be done “to turn this technology into a system that people can use.”

Google says it intends to look for partners to develop apps that would make measurements available to the wearer and to doctors. Perhaps they shut down Google Health too early.

Image via Google

  • http://www.officekitten.co.uk Alex Morris

    Oh my, now I can walk everywhere with a giant “G+” vision in the centre of my vision. I always find I need to be reminded of Google 24/7.

    What they actually do is interesting. With 3D printing being used a lot in the medical world now, the idea of contact lenses of being of use is useful.

  • Who are they kidding?

    I personally think all this technology was reversed engineered from the Roswell crash and other alien crashes.

    Think about it. For thousands of years man basically did nothing. Centuries passed with little change. Then Roswell. Overnight we went from the vacuum tube to the integrated circuit chip. Fast forward 50 years and we are cloning and using nano technology and literally growing limbs in petri dishes. Read the day after Roswell by Phillip Corso. He details how the government put alien technology into existing scientific research programs. It is very interesting and when you think about it — brilliant.

    Honestly though, the real value for eyesight is in stem cells. People have been cured of blindness because of stem cells. As long as the cells do not come from aborted babies, I am all for stem cells. By the way, they don’t have to come from aborted babies. There are other ways of getting them and stem cells from one person can be given to another.

  • http://www.masquerademagic.co.uk/ james43

    What will they think of next..

  • jas

    death to evil google!

  • steve jobs

    thanks for sharing.

  • Laura Q

    As a diabetic of 34 years, having changed status from Type 2 to Type 1 and having my eyesight worsening, I would be up for anything to help keep my glucose level under constant surveillance would be a blessing for me.