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Google strikes smart contact lens deal to track diabetes and fix farsightedness

Matt Brian, @m4tt
07.15.14
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With Glass and Android Wear, Google has already invested a lot of time and resources into developing the next-generation of wearables, but it's another of its eye-focused projects that has today received its first major boost. The search giant's secret Google[x] team has confirmed that it's licensed its smart eyewear to healthcare specialist Novartis, which will develop the technology into a product that can improve eye care and help manage diseases and conditions.

As part of the agreement, Google[x] and Novartis' eye care division Alcon will create smart lenses that feature "non-invasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturized electronics" and focus on two main areas. The first will provide a way for diabetic patients to keep on top of their glucose levels by measuring the sugar levels in their tear fluid, feeding the data back to a smartphone or tablet. The second solution aims to help restore the eye's natural focus on near objects, restoring clear vision to those who are only farsighted (presbyopia).

Google's role will be to develop the tiny electronics needed to collect data and will also take care of the low-power chip designs and fabrication. Alcon, on the other hand, will apply its medical knowledge to develop commercial versions of the smart contact lens. "Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people," says Google co-founder Sergey Brin. "We are very excited to work with Novartis to make this dream come true."

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