January 30, 2014
Smart Contacts for Diabetics
As most of you know by now, I’m a Type II diabetic, and a geek. What this means is I am always looking for ways to use technology to deal with my condition.
I use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone to track my carbohydrate (and calorie) intake, and I use the GlucoseBuddy to track my daily blood glucose levels, my A1C results and my blood pressure. I’m also always on the lookout for the next best thing.
Well, last week, I think Google announced it. Arstechnica reported that Google has developed a smart contact lens that will measure blood glucose levels. I’m about to jump for joy here… no glasses, no sticking my finger each morning, and the contacts would (eventually) let me know when my sugar levels were too low or too high.
For the geek in me, this is happy dance time!
The contact has a small wireless chip and a sensor to measure the wearer’s glucose levels via the tear fluid in the eye. For now, this is an experiment for Google, with prototypes being tested that can take a glucose reading about once a second. The plan is to also integrate an LED to notify the user of pending trouble.
Personally, I think it should email my phone, as well, or maybe a way to send a daily average reading to my Glucose Buddy app? But that’s just me.
Babak Parviz, one of the founders of the Google Glass team, is involved with the new smart contacts. He has given several talks about embedding LEDs and other sensors into contact lenses. One of those talks was about how to power such contacts with a working LED. Parviz said the lens would be “powered remotely using a 5-millimeter-long antenna printed on the lens to receive gigahertz-range radio-frequency energy from a transmitter placed ten centimeters from the eye.” The glucose lens has a copper circle around the edge, which Arstechnica says is most likely an inductive charging coil that would require a face-mounted charging antenna.
There are two layer of contact material surrounding the electronic components of the lens, making sure that there is nothing hard or edgy touching the eye. Google is currently in discussions with the FDA about potential health hazards from embedding electronics so close to the eye, but they have had several successful clinical research studies working through a few prototype designs. They have gone public in an effort to attract more partners, and more experts to help make this experiment a reality.
I know that I would sign up to be part of a trial on this bit of health geekery.
Image Credit: Google