Last week the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Google revealing new aspects of their smart contact lens invention. We began covering Google's breakthrough technology back in March of this year in a report titled "Google takes their Glass Vision to Smart Contact Lenses" which covered the foundation of the technology. In this report we cover one of Google's latest patent applications titled "In-Situ Tear Sample Collection and Testing using a contact Lens." The timing of Google's latest patent application relating to smart contact lenses that integrate glucose testing couldn't have been any better. In under a week of its publication by the US Patent and Trademark Office, Google broke the news that the Novartis eye care unit Alcon had struck a deal to license their smart lens technology. As Google and Apple prepare to battle for future Home and Health markets, the deal with Novartis puts Google in a phenomenal position for first strike success. Whether you cheer for Google or not, the fact is that their latest invention has the potential of assisting hundreds of millions of diabetics around the world. It could forever mean the end of using lancets on a daily basis to capture one's glucose levels. And the thing is – a glucose reader is only the beginning. The off-shoot dimensions of Google's smart contact lens technology are many, with the benefits being just as unique. As always, Patently Mobile will continue to cover Google's latest patent applications regarding this technology as it becomes available.
A New Smart Contact Lens Invention from Google
In Google's latest patent application they note that tear fluid provides a viable source of biological analytes that can indicate various health states of an individual from which tear fluid is generated. However, collection of tear samples for testing is difficult. Many processes for collecting tear samples usually irritate the eye and produce tear fluid having constituents which can lead to erroneous test results. For example, tear fluid generated from irritation of an eye, such as touching of the eye and tear fluid generated from an emotional reaction comprise different constituents than basal tears and are generally produced in greater quantity than basal tears. Such reflex and emotional tears interfere with composition of tear samples of interest.
In order to avoid some of the aforementioned drawbacks associated with collection of tear fluid, contact lenses have been established that employ internal sensing platforms for in-situ testing of tear fluid for analytes.
These contact lenses generally test tear fluid that forms a tear film over the contact lens. However, the total volume of tear fluid establishing the tear film is often insufficient for in-situ testing of various analytes. This is where a next-generation of Google Glass, in the form of contact lenses comes into play. Google's invention covers contact lenses that employ one or more recesses integrated within a substrate that collect tear fluid and supply collected tear fluid to a sensor for sensing of an analyte therein.
Noted below are contact lenses which include a sensor #108 configured to sense one or more analytes within tear fluid collected in cavity #106. Sensors for used in the contact lenses can include but are not limited to, an electrochemical sensor, a biosensor, an amperometric sensor, or a pressure sensor.
Such sensors can be configured to sense information indicative of presence and/or concentration of various analytes in collected tear fluid, including but not limited to glucose, alcohol, histamine, urea, lactate, cholesterol, or electrolyte ions such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. In an aspect, the main sensor #108 can include two or more sensors configured to sense different analytes of interest.
Google Licenses Smart Contact Lens Technology
It was made public yesterday that "Google is teaming up with pharmaceutical giant Novartis to develop a "smart" contact lens intended to replace reading glasses for people who can't read without them and glucose monitors for those with diabetes.
For diabetics, the lenses would replace regular finger sticks designed to read out a person's blood glucose level. Instead, the lens will "read" glucose levels in tears, sending information wirelessly to a handheld device that will warn patients when they need to eat or lower their glucose levels."
This product is likely to be a huge success as nobody likes to have to prick their fingers with a lancet every day in order to take their glucose readings, especially the very young or the elderly. How huge is this market? According to Novartis, there are more than 380 million people that have diabetes.
Google's patent FIG. 6 noted below presents a high level illustration of example contact lens that facilitates gathering, processing and wirelessly communicating, sensed information related to an analyte present in tear fluid collected in a cavity disposed within the contact lens.
Google's patent FIG. 9 noted below is an exemplary flow diagram of a method that facilitates collecting tear fluid with a contact lens, sensing an analyte in the collected tear fluid, and transmitting information associated with the sensed analyte.
In April Patently Mobile (formerly "Patent Bolt") first broke the news of Google's many patent applications covering their next Google-Glass venture relating to smart contact lenses and in one of the first reports titled "Google Invents Micro Camera System for Future Contact Lenses," we briefly touched on the camera system what would be able to use a zoom engine. In yesterday's USA Today report we learned a little more about this.
Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez stated that "For people with vision problems, the device would work like the autofocus of a camera, allowing them to focus on close-up things like the words in a book. It will be designed to work as a contact lens that is changed out regularly, or as an intra-ocular lens, permanently inserted into the eye during cataract surgery." The reach of this technology hasn't even begun to scratch the surface.
Although I'm an Apple fan, I say Cheers to Google for an innovative breakthrough that could very soon help millions of people around the world.
Google's latest contact lens related patent application was filed back in Q3 2012. Neither Novartis nor Google have made it public as to the timing of any such devices.
A Note for Tech Sites covering our Report: We ask tech sites covering our report to kindly limit the use of our graphics to one image. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
Patently Mobile presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. About Posting Comments: Patently Mobile reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments.