Novartis, Google team up on smart lenses

Novartis and Google are cooperating on smart-lens technology. Novartis yesterday announced that its Alcon eye-care division will work to develop and commercialize the technology from the search giant's Google[x] division.

Novartis described the smart lens technology as involving noninvasive sensors, microchips, and other miniaturized electronics embedded within contact lenses.

Potential applications include helping diabetic patients continuously monitor glucose levels through the analysis of tear fluid and wireless communication of the results to a mobile device. The technology could also enable accommodative vision correction to help people with presbyopia regain the ability to autofocus on near objects.

“We are looking forward to working with Google to bring together their advanced technology and our extensive knowledge of biology to meet unmet medical needs,” said Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez in a statement. “This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye.”

“Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people,” added Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google. “We are very excited to work with Novartis to make this dream come true.”

Jimenez told the Wall Street Journal that the technology has the potential to generate a “large revenue stream” for the company, which hopes to have a prototype ready by early 2015.

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