Google Smart Lens

Way back in January the Google[x] team announced its smart contact lens project. More recently, Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis said it would be licensing the tech for all ocular medical uses and that its Alcon eyecare division would be teaming with Google to produce smart lenses for the public. But what is Google Smart Lens, how do Google Smart Lens and Google Glass differ, and how can wearable tech transform our health? See all wearable tech reviews 

What is Google Smart Lens? 

Google Smart Lens is a contact lens that is worn in direct contact with the eye. It contains various micro-electronics, including non-invasive sensors and low-power chips, which allow it to collect data and then wirelessly transmit it to an app on a paired mobile device. 

Google Smart Lens is one of several smart contact lenses in development, with each focused on monitoring different aspects of health. 

What is Google Glass? 

Google Glass is a pair of smartglasses that are worn over the eye and display real-time information that only you can see and hear. It, too, is able to wirelessly transmit data to a paired device, from photos and video to search- and navigation queries. What is Google Glass in a question best answered in our Google Glass video below. Also see Google Glass release date, price and specs  

 

How can Google Smart Lens benefit our health? 

Google[x] created Smart Lens in an effort to alleviate the daily struggle of diabetics who must keep constant tabs on and maintain their blood sugar levels. Since this data can be collected from tear fluid, Google Smart Lens allows the continuous monitoring of glucose with minimal invasion. 

And that's just the start. All sorts of information can be collected from tear fluid, including early warning signs of breast-, colon-, lung-, prostate- and ovarian cancers through a chemical called lacryglobin. 

Novartis is also interested in Google Smart Lens' potential ability to provide vision correction for those who are living with presbyopia and are unable to read without glasses. Google's tech may be able to restore they eye's natural autofocus on close objects. 

Novartis hopes that through collaboration between Alcon and Google[x] product innovation will be accelerated. 

Smartglasses vs smart lenses 

Smartglasses and smart lenses sound as though they should do similar things, but Google Smart Lens is not Google Glass for those who already wear prescription lenses. Indeed, Google Glass can already be worn by those who also require specs. 

Both Google Glass and Google Smart Lens could have implications for the healthcare industry. Whereas Google Glass might be a tool worn by the healthcare professional, allowing a doctor to immediately call up information on a patient, or a nurse in recording the administration of medicines, Google Smart Lens would be worn by the patient and used to keep a constant check on their health. Also see What is Google Glass actually useful for? 

Google Smart Lens looks inward, and is concerned only with the health of its owner. It is designed to go unnoticed, causing minimal disruption as it monitors your health. Conversely, Google Glass looks outward, enabling you to better interact with the world around you. And if it didn't cause some sort of disruption, you wouldn't pay a grand to own it. 

Smart lenses have undeniable appeal in the medical field, but the jury is still out on smartglasses

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.