Google Inks a Deal With Novartis to Make Smart Contact Lenses

Google’s “smart contact lens” just went from patents to partners.

The Google X project is now officially in lock step with healthcare giant Novartis, the parent of Alcon, which produces some of the most-widely used contact lens products on the market, including Air Optix, FreshLook and Dailies. Novartis will work on turning Google’s lab project into smart contact lenses for people around the world.

A product of Google Research, the smart lenses look like traditional contact lenses. The company’s eye care division, Alcon, will license Google’s smart lens and co-develop them for a variety of ocular medical uses.

Ophthalmic electrochemical sensors in the contact lenses are designed to measure glucose levels and offer real-time updates to an app on a connected mobile device for people with diabetes. Google secured a patent for the technology earlier this year.

In addition to glucose measurement, the lenses may also offer vision correction for people with presbyopia the lenses may also offer vision correction for people with presbyopia, an age-related eye condition that affects billions, making it difficult to focus on objects nearby. Details on how that might work are currently unavailable.

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

Jeff George, Alcon’s division head, said that the companies aim to “unlock a new frontier to jointly address the unmet medical needs of millions of eye care patients around the world.”

There are no details yet about when the first Google-powered Alcon smart contact lenses will arrive. Elizabeth Harness Murphy, Alcon’s director of global external communications, toldMashable that it is “way too early in the agreement and way too early in the prototype development” to project when smart lenses might hit the market.

She also noted that terms of the deal are not being released.

Author: Lance Ulanoff

Source: Mashable