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Google Works on a Glucose-Measuring Smart Contact Lens

Although smart wearables hit a plateau in 2016, it won’t be long before the market picks up again as research predicts that manufacturers will be looking at new ways to innovate wearables in the coming years. In fact, data presented by CCS Insight revealed that the wearables market will be worth $25 billion by 2019 as demand for health-focused sensors and technology is expected to grow further.

Wearable technology will branch out past the current smart headsets, smartwatches, and even fitness brands, as the next wave of devices will be more focused on specialized health assistance.

A particular long-awaited wearable device on the market is Google’s smart contact lens. The search giant and pharmaceutical company Novartis teamed up to develop the first smart contact lens that is said to assist patients with diabetes as well as those with eye problems. It is a contact lens with a built-in microchip that is able to measure the glucose level of patients non-invasively and correct eye issues, respectively.

The technology

While the world welcomed the emergence of smartwatches on the market, Google surprised the industry by announcing that they have plans to work on a smart contact lens that can monitor blood-sugar levels and correct vision in a new and innovative way.

The idea was a brainchild of Brian Otis, a former electrical engineering professor and a team leader at Google. His research group wants to take advantage of the possibility to shrink computer microchips, wireless antennas and other parts of the smart contact lens to ensure it won’t interfere with the user’s view.

Eye-care firm Alcon, a unit of Novartis, had licensed the technology from Google and sought regulatory approval of the device from the DFA. The Switzerland-based company will also be the one to produce the lens.

“The eye-mountable device is mounted on the pedestal such that the posterior concave side contacts the second end of the pedestal and the eye-mountable device is elevated from the base of the container,” reported Tech Times.

Stiff Competition

While the idea is extremely unique, Google needs to work faster in releasing their own smart contact lens. Apparently, another company is already working on producing the same technology and it will be compatible with their rival tech manufacturer, Apple.

Medical supply company EPGL also intends to develop a smart contact lens with compatible apps for the iOS platform. The technology will be projecting augmented reality applications to the user’s eyes.

While many predicted that Apple is working on a VR headset, CEO Tim Cook clearly feels that AR will be bigger than virtual reality and they have been working on it ‘behind the curtain’ for quite a while now.

Some industry experts even suggest that Apple were already making their recent handset, iPhone 7, ready for AR or VR head-mounted devices. It is believed to “foster wireless technology” with the introduction of the EarPods, which will power most future wearables in the coming years.

Although a lot of consumers were initially disgruntled by the removal of the device’s headphone jack, it remains one of the most popular handsets today with an overall rating of 4.1-star by O2 users, surpassing the rating given to other Android smartphones.

As Apple continues to focus on AR, it seems a smart contact lens by EPGL running iOS apps will certainly add competition to Google’s upcoming release. Who will dominate the market in 2017, remains to be seen.

Delays in development

Back in 2014, after the news of the partnership was revealed to the public, Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez mentioned that he hoped to see the smart contact lens released on the market within five years or so. He was then reported in 2015 saying that they were on track to begin testing in 2016.

However, a representative from the pharmaceutical firm recently revealed they had done away with their 2016 goal of testing the technology and their timelines have had to be moved back further due to unprecedented delays.

“It is too early to say when exactly human clinical trials for these lenses will begin,” a Novartis spokesperson told Reuters. “This is a very technically complex process and both sides are learning as we go along and will provide updates at the appropriate time.”

It is still unclear when they will start testing the technology. However that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anticipation for the new innovation as Google continues to aggressively explore the possibility of a glucose-sensing lens after their successful meeting with the FDA, the market is waiting for its arrival of what could be a groundbreaking piece of tech.

Exclusively written for Lyfbulb
by TechJeneration

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