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Google announces smart contact lenses project

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Google has revealed smart contact lenses that could help those with diabetes maintain their glucose levels.

The tech giant revealed in a blog post that employees of GoogleX are experimenting with embedding sensors into contact lens material -- in the hopes that they could eventually be used to monitor blood sugar levels.

It can be difficult for those with diabetes to keep sugar levels under control on a daily basis, and if not managed well, this can result in complications including damage to organs, passing out and weight loss. Daily activities including exercise and eating change these levels, and sudden spikes or drops can be hard to detect.

Most sufferers prick their skin to test blood several times a day. However, the pain factor keeps some people from testing as often as they should.

But what if other bodily fluids, such as tears, could be used for testing?

This is the heart of Google's experiments. The company is testing a smart contact lens which is built using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. Small enough to appear like glitter, current prototypes are able to take a reading once per second. Google is also investigating the use of tiny LEDs that could light up and serve as a warning to users when sugar levels are too low or high.

The technology is still in early stages, but the company is in talks with the FDA to thrash out health regulations and how far the technology can go. In addition, Google is looking for partners which could use the technology and develop apps that would document the measurements for both wearer and doctors.

Image credit: Google

— By on January 17, 2014, 4:30 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure