TIME Tech

Google Joining With Pharma Company to Build its Smart Contact Lens

The lenses would be a breakthrough in diabetes management, allowing diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels without drawing blood

Pharmaceutical company Novartis announced Tuesday that its eye care division, Alcon, will license Google’s smart contact lens technology, creating a tool to monitor diabetics’ blood sugar levels through tear samples.

Alcon will collaborate with Google[x], Google’s secretive lab for major technological advances which also designed Google Glass. The two will join forces to develop contact lenses that wirelessly connect to mobile devices to report blood sugar in near-real-time. The technology may also provide accommodative vision correction for those with impaired eyesight.

“Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people,” said Google C0-Founder Sergey Brin in a statement. “We are very excited to work with Novartis to make this dream come true.”

A marriage between a medical juggernaut and a tech powerhouse, the agreement will benefit both companies by allowing Google to merge biology with its miniature electronic efforts and Novartis to leverage technology to manage disease, according to Novartis’ press release. The partnership remains subject to anti-trust approvals.

“This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye,” said Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez.

The partnership announcement arrives shortly after Babak Parviz, one of the Google[x] pioneers behind the smart lens and Google Glass, wrote on Google Plus Saturday that he will leave Google for Amazon. Parviz, who debuted in 2011 a smart lens prototype with a red LED light indicating glucose at or below certain thresholds, is expected to contribute to Amazon’s wearables and technological advancements.

Google announced its smart contact lens project in January.

 

 

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