lensGoogle has developed new technology to help people with diabetes and potentially those with vision disabilities as well. This shows another step forward in the world of micro technology, following the Google Glass wearable technology, which is still not available to the public.

Diabetes is a problem that affects 1 in 19 people, or some 382 million people, in the world today. It is a daily struggle for those who are affected to keep their glucose levels balanced, but this new technology could replace the arduous task of pricking your fingers every day. The smart lenses that Google is working on will have the ability to monitor a person’s glucose levels through their tears.

The prototype lenses will incorporate tiny wireless chips and glucose sensors placed two layers of soft contact material. A tiny pinhole in the lens let tear fluid seep into the sensor to measure blood sugar levels once every second. The electronics in the lenses are to be so small that they appear to be specks of glitter, and the wireless antenna is thinner than a human hair.  The next step will be to have LED lights inside the lenses that will flash when sugar levels are out of a normal range.

Another type of smart lens that Google is working on is one that features a camera similar to the Google Glass camera on a smaller scale so that it fits into the lens. The Google lens contains a control circuit, and image capture (camera) component and an image sensor. The system can be wirelessly linked to a mobile phone for data access and to issue commands via audio, although it is unclear if the lens would be powered wirelessly or have a wired link to a battery.

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Even for people with no vision problems, the technology could one day replace binoculars.

Google says the system will be able to detect faces, potentially allowing blind people to recognize others.  It could also help blind people by determining if any objects are in their way while they walk and cross the street or any situation like that.

These lenses are still in the prototype phase and it could be several years before we see it being released to consumers.  It will be interesting to see how people respond as more options like these are available.  Some are skeptical about the issues of privacy of these more intrusive wearable devices.