Accessibility View Close toolbar

Novartis Joins With Google to Develop Contact Lens That Monitors Blood Sugar

LONDON — Google announced on Tuesday a partnership with the European drug maker Novartis to develop a smart contact lens with the potential to monitor the wearer’s blood sugar levels.

The agreement is among recent moves into the health care sector by technology giants including Apple and Samsung as they develop devices and mobile applications to track people’s daily lives.

Novartis said that Alcon, its eye care unit, had struck a deal to license so-called smart lens technology from one of Google’s research divisions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

As part of the agreement, Alcon said it would look to create products from Google’s prototype smart contact lens, which uses miniature sensors and a radio antenna thinner than a human hair to track glucose levels. The companies did not specify how the data would be transmitted.

Information about blood sugar levels, which is particularly useful for people with diabetes, could be uploaded to smartphone devices and used by doctors and patients to monitor the data almost in real time, according to a statement from Google issued when the company released its prototype in January.

Joe Jimenez, the chief executive of Novartis, acknowledged in an interview that many previous attempts to develop noninvasive glucose tests had failed, noting that the company previously tried — and failed — to develop its own glucose-monitoring contact lenses several years ago.

What makes this case different is the involvement of Google’s engineers, he said. “One of the biggest hurdles was miniaturization, and that’s one of the biggest benefits that Google X brings,” he said. “This is a set of engineers that are really doing incredible things with technology.”

While the glucose-monitoring lens has gotten most of the attention, Mr. Jimenez said he was also encouraged by another lens in development that would work much like autofocus on a camera, by helping the eye focus on near objects, then readjusting when the user looks at something far away. He said that product was not as far along in development, and that both lenses were still early in their development.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “This will take a few years, as opposed to a few months.”

Mr. Jimenez declined to disclose financial details of the deal. He also said that it was too early to estimate what such lenses, if they are eventually approved, would cost.

Sergey Brin, a Google founder, said the company’s smart lens technology could “help improve the quality of life for millions of people.”

The push to develop medical technology comes as several of the world’s largest technology companies are looking for new areas for growth. Analysts say that the pharmaceutical and health care sectors are crucial targets as people increasingly take greater control of their own medical treatment.

This year, Apple introduced health-tracking tools that monitor users’ footsteps, heart rates and sleep activities. Samsung already offers a number of so-called wearable devices that also allow people to monitor their daily movements.

Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule

Arlington Heights - Arlington Town Square

Monday:

10:00 am-8:00 pm

Tuesday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

10:00 am-8:00 pm

Thursday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-3:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Glenview - The Glen Town Center

Monday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

10:00 am-8:00 pm

Wednesday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

10:00 am-5:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Barrington - Barrington Village Center

Monday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-7:00 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-7:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-12:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "We use Anderson Optometry for all of our family’s vision needs. Recently, we had to have our youngest fitted for new glasses and he made the experience fun for her and informative for us. We know Dr. Anderson will always take good care of our family’s eye care and that’s why we wouldn’t go to anywhere else."
    The Harrison Family
  • "Dr. Anderson and his staff are so patient and friendly. Dr. Anderson prescribed me glasses and I had the toughest time picking out frames. They didn’t rush, but instead made helpful suggestions and now I have an awesome pair of frames, not to mention the fact that I can see ten times better than before. You guys are the best!"
    Shelly