It's hard not to have a strong opinion about the Google Glass: for most, its either really cool, or a scary glimpse of the future. But for all the fanfare and backlash over Google Glass, the contact lens the company is developing should be met with open arms. Instead of attempting to put smartphone's computing power and more before your eyes, the contact lens is intended to help diabetics streamline the process of reading blood glucose levels. The World Health Organization estimates that 347 million of the world's population - that's about one in 19 - have diabetes and could benefit from monitoring glucose levels. Google's blog post says that the researchers working on the contact lens were motivated by the fact that patients under treatment still have to prick a finger to draw blood and monitor glucose levels. Because the monitoring is painful and disruptive, it leads many to not monitor their blood glucose levels as closely as they should. How does it work? According to the developers, the lens is:
...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.
The lens is still under development and clinical trials and FDA approval lie ahead before the product could become widely available.