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Google partners with Novartis for smart lens, expands possible uses


By Darius Tahir
Posted: July 15, 2014 - 2:15 pm ET
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Google—through its speculative R&D “X” division—announced Tuesday that it was licensing its smart lens technology to Novartis.

The technology packs sensors and electronics into a lens, whether a contact or intraocular lens.

The announcement signals increased ambition for the Google smart lens project. The technology originally was to apply to contact lenses and was intended to continuously sense glucose levels through tear fluid in the eye.

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Now, according to a news release, the technology can apparently be applied to intraocular lenses and patients with other conditions.

The release mentions “people living with presbyopia” as another potential target. A smart lens may be able to restore the eye's autofocus.

The promotional material is vague as to market timeline, but either use likely would involve a pathway through the Food and Drug Administration—and perhaps the more time- and resource-intensive approval pathway, rather than the clearance one.

The licensing represents another step in Google's efforts to enter the healthcare business. The online giant also recently introduced a health data service, Google Fit.

Follow Darius Tahir on Twitter: @dariustahir


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