Google partners with Novartis to produce glucose-monitoring contact lens
By Stu Robarts
July 16, 2014
Earlier this year, Google announced that it was testing a glucose-monitoring contact lens. The lens is aimed at helping people with diabetes better manage the disease. A partnership has now been announced with Alcon, which is the eye care division of Novartis, to commercialize the technology.
The "smart contact lens" project came out of the Google X blue-sky innovation arm of the company. It uses a "tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material," in order to detect glucose levels present in tears.
At the time of the initial announcement in January, Google said its prototypes were able to take one glucose reading per second. It reported that it was investigating ways for the device to act as an early warning system for the wearer should glucose levels become abnormal.
Under the terms of the new agreement, Google will license the technology to Alcon "for all ocular medical uses." The two companies will collaborate to develop the lens and bring it to market. Novartis says it sees Google's advances in the miniaturization of electronics as complementary to its own expertise in pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
"The agreement marries Google's expertise in miniaturized electronics, low power chip design and microfabrication with Alcon's expertise in physiology and visual performance of the eye, clinical development and evaluation, as well as commercialization of contact and intraocular lenses," says Novartis in a press release.
The transaction remains subject to anti-trust approvals, but assuming it goes through, Alcon hopes it will help to accelerate its product innovation.