Google seem to be becoming involved in every facet of life. If it’s not robotics or the music industry, it’s your home alarm and Smartphone. Now comes news that they’re also involved in the medical industry. On Thursday, January 16, 2014, they were at it again, announcing the prototype for a truly revolutionary new medical device that will ultimately remake the process of glucose monitoring for the 382,000,000 diabetics worldwide who still sometimes have to jab their fingers with a needle to draw blood up to a dozen times per day. The prototype, which Google says will take at least five years to reach consumers, according to the Guardian, is one of several medical devices being designed by companies to make glucose monitoring for diabetic patients more convenient and less invasive than the traditional painful finger pricks.
These miraculous new contact lenses only went into research and development in June 2012 at the famous Google X Lab, the location of which the giant corporation desperately tries to keep top secret in the manner of a Los Alamos. The Google X Lab is where they also created a driverless car, Google’s Web-surfing Eyeglasses (Google Glass) and Project Loon, which is a network of large balloons designed to beam the Internet to unwired places.
The pioneering research on the contact lenses began over a decade ago at the University of Washington, where scientists and graduate students worked under National Science Foundation funding, according to the Financial Times. Much of that original research was involved with semiconductors, which helped make cellphones become light and slim The lenses also came out of work on semiconductor miniaturization. By creating a tiny glucose sensor connected to a wireless transmitter, Google have made a stunning logical leap. Physically, the device looks exactly like a typical contact lens. What’s impossible to see without the assistance of a microscope is that, between two layers of Google glass are two glitter-specks inhabited by tens of thousands of miniaturized transistors encircled by a hair-thin antenna.
The main difficult part of the work involved years of soldering hair-thin wires to miniaturized electronics as one tiny chip at a time was built from scratch to make the smallest wireless glucose sensor ever made.
At the same time, there are already rivals to Google who will soon have new glucose monitoring devices good to go. A Dutch company, NovioSense, is working on its own minuscule, flexible spring, which can be planted under one’s eyelid. Another Israeli company, OrSense, has already tested a thumb cuff, and there have been other designs being copyrighted for tattoos and saliva sensors. A wristwatch monitor had already been approved by the FDA in 2001, but patients used in research studies were unanimous in their negative reaction, which was caused by a low-level electric current that pulled fluid from their skin during an exceedingly painful process.
The race is on and the rewards to be culled from more than 38 million patients are huge.