Monday, January 20, 2014

Google Introducing a smart contact lens project

As reported on the Google Blog - Google is testing a smart contact lens that’s 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. They are testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second and also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer. In addion, they are exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. Google has completed multiple clinical research studies to refine the prototype. Google hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.

Also reporting on this story, Tech Crunch and re/code and has more information

Image from re/code, showing how Google smart contact prototypes can squeeze in a glucose sensor, antenna, capacitor and chip between two contact lens layers. A tiny hole on the eye side allows tear film, which contains glucose, to reach the sensor.

That this is a hot topic also outside Google application Labs you can see if you do some patent research. Here is patent rougly describing such a technology that Google is presenting:

Wireless powered contact lens with biosensor, US8608310 B2

"A contact lens having an integrated glucose sensor is provided. The contact lensincludes an electrochemical sensor configured to measure the level of glucose in the tear fluid of the eye of the user wearing the contact lens. The electrochemical sensor is powered by radiation off-lens, through an RF antenna or a photovoltaic device mounted on the periphery of the contact lens. The power provided to the contact lens also enables transmission of data from the electrochemical sensor, for example by backscatter communications or optically by an LED mounted to the lens."

This patent further claims : A powered contact lens formed from a transparent substrate shaped to be worn directly over a user's eye, the contact lens comprising:
(a) an annular antenna disposed at a margin of the contact lens, wherein the antenna is configured to receive a power signal;
(b) a light-emitting diode (LED) configured to transmit a data signal;
(c) a biosensor module configured to measure a characteristic of the user's eye, the biosensor module comprising an electromechanical sensor comprising:
(i) a working electrode;
(ii) a counter electrode;
(iii) a reference electrode; and
(iv) a biosensor circuit configured to measure the voltage of the working electrode, the counter electrode, and the reference electrode, and to transmit a biosensor signal

With the ETH Zürich latest report on flexible electronics that we reported on employing ALD in mind we can speculate on a bright future for ALD in these type of applications [LINK]

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