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Smart contact lenses move closer to reality: Novartis and Google announce partnership to develop the new glucose-sensing technology

Published: 7/15/14

Google contact lens

On July 15, Novartis announced a partnership with Google[x] to develop smart contact lenses that can non-invasively track blood glucose levels through tears and send the data wirelessly to a mobile device – for an in-depth dive on the contact lenses and how they work, please read our update here. The company hopes to have a prototype by early 2015, and Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jiminez states that he hopes the lenses will be on the market within five years.  We wrote about Google’s ambitious entrance into the diabetes field earlier this year, so it’s exciting to see the project moving forward at such a rapid pace.

The partnership with Novartis would have Google working with Novartis’s Alcon eyecare unit to further develop and commercialize the technology. Novartis will bring its expertise in the eye-care field, with its extensive work in contact lenses, its work on Lucentis for diabetic macular edema, and its experience in regulatory and commercialization issues. The company will also be working on a different contact lenses product to help address presbyopia, where aging eyes have trouble focusing on close objects. Their hope is that the lens technology can be used to restore the eye’s ability to focus, which has the potential to address a range of eye issues and failings with a single solution rather than requiring the fixed prescriptions that people use now.

Google has previously partnered with Luxottica Group, SpA, and VSP Global on Google Glass, and this new partnership underscores the company’s use of reputable partners to bring new innovations to market. We see the work in wearable health technology like the smart lens as part of a broader move to involve patients in managing their own health. These types of innovative products have the potential to reduce the burden and stigma of managing chronic diseases, and attract technology giants like Google into the field of diabetes. – NL 

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