Google has unveiled a contact lens which could end the ordeal of millions of diabetics who jab their fingers up to 10 times a day to test their blood sugar.
The prototype, that monitors glucose levels in tears, is one of several medical devices being designed by companies to make glucose testing for diabetics more convenient and less invasive than the traditional finger pricks.
Google says it will take at least five years to reach consumers.
The lenses use a minuscule glucose sensor and a wireless transmitter to help those who are among the world’s 382 million diabetics who need insulin keep a close watch on their blood sugar and adjust their dose.
The contact lenses were developed during the past 18 months in the clandestine Google X lab that also came up with a driverless car, Google’s web-surfing glasses and Project Loon, a network of large balloons designed to beam the internet to unwired places.
But research on the contact lenses began several years earlier at the University of Washington, where scientists worked under National Science Foundation funding.
One of the lead researchers, Brian Otis said: “The beautiful thing is we’re leveraging all of the innovation in the semiconductor industry that was aimed at making cellphones smaller and more powerful.”