Google partners with drug company to develop smart contact lenses

Google hope their new partnership with Novartis will enable them to create lenses capable of improving vision and monitoring health.

The lives of people who are diabetic or cannot read without the aid of a pair of prescription glasses might be about to get a whole lot better, after Google announced its partnership with Novartis.

The Swiss pharmaceutical company's eye division, named Alcon, will with work directly with Google's major technological advancements department, Google X, in developing the future of contact lenses.

Alcon and Google X will be trying to integrate miniaturised electronics, microchips and non-invasive sensors into contact lenses, in order to do things such as measure glucose levels in the tears of people suffering with diabetes.

Google has up until now been working on a smart contact lens alone and in January they revealed their first prototype, which contained a minuscule glucose sensor and a wireless transmitter.

You might think how can it possibly be comfortable to wear a physical electronic device in your eye no matter what the size? But Google have it worked out, they placed the tiny components in between two layers of lens so that it does not irritate the human eye.

Google also patented the embedding of microscopic cameras into a contact lens in April. The patent details how wearers would be able to control the camera and snap photos by blinking or by using their smartphone.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin said in a press release: "Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturisation of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people.

"We are very excited to work with Novartis to make this dream come true."

Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez predicts that they could have a smart contact lens ready for the mass market in five years time.