Earlier this year, Google announced its smart contact lenses aimed at helping diabetics keep glucose levels under control. The company has now reportedly found a partner to to make them.
Reuters is reporting that Google has struck a deal with Novartis to develop the contact lenses and better compete in the blood-sugar tracking market. But they're not stopping there. According to the report, Novartis will also aim to treat presbyopia, a condition in which eye focus diminishes with age.
Also as part of the deal, the report says, Novartis' Alcon eyecare unit will continue to develop and commercialize Google's contact lens technologies.
The project's co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz had this to say about the project back in January:
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. 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. 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.
Parviz's vision for what smart contact lenses can do stretches far beyond the applications mentioned above. He gave a talk a couple years ago about what the technology might one day be able to accomplish, and we're talking some pretty cool, futuristic stuff. Ideas mentioned include: gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, interfacing with mobile, supervision, night vision, and multi-focus.
Keep in mind, Parviz is the main guy behind Google Glass. He also just happened to jump ships to Amazon.
Terms of Google's deal with Novartis were not disclosed.
Image via Google