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Novartis, Google to work together on smart contact lens

Alcon, the contact lens subsidiary of Novartis, will license the technology and co-develop the lenses with Google.
By Ananth Baliga   |   July 15, 2014 at 2:03 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, July 15 (UPI) -- Healthcare giant Novartis is partnering with Google to to bring its smart contact lens, which will detect users' blood sugar levels, to consumer markets.

The partnership announced Tuesday will have Novartis' Alcon contact lens division license the technology and co-develop the lenses with Google for a variety of uses. The contact lens is expected to check a user's blood sugar level and correct vision in a new, unique way.

The lens, which was launched in January, would use miniature sensors and a radio antenna thinner than a human hair to track glucose levels in the user's tears. Google has not yet specified how it plans to transmit the data from the lens, possibly to a smartphone.

The move shows an increasing interest in the tech industry for health-related apps and devices. Google debuted Google Fit platform last month, that will enable developers to build apps that can monitor health metrics, such as sleep and exercise, and transfer them to a user's Android phone. Apple also unveiled a similar platform called HealthKit, a clear sign that large technology companies are looking for new areas for growth.

Financial details of the deal were not divulged, nor how Novartis plans to market the product.

Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez said the use of smart technology in healthcare will enable patients to have more involvement in the management of their health. Technology could also help lower the costs associated with chronic diseases like diabetes.

"This will be a very important growth area in the future," Jimenez said in an interview.

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, said the smart lens could "help improve the quality of life for millions of people."

One in 19 people, or 382 million people, suffer from diabetes across the world. In the U.S., more than 29 million people, or 9.3% of the population, suffer from the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.

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