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Google’s Brin hints at bright future for smart contact lenses

Google may have shelved Google Glass, its failed attempt to persuade the world that internet-connected spectacles were the next big thing, but it has not given up on the concept of smart eyeware.

The internet giant’s Verily Life Sciences unit has been working on connected contact lenses – or rather, eye implants – for some time, and Google founder Sergey Brin dropped a hint at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the technology may soon see the light of day.

Interviewed on stage at Davos, Brin said that Verily had started working on a glucose sensing contact lens project some time ago, and hinted that the first products may come to market soon.

“They wanted to put a computer in a contact lens. I said go and do your crazy thing. Good for you. Yet here they are a few years later doing serious studies in a serious partnership with Novartis and Alkon and they are hopefully going to bring those to market along with a bunch of other projects that this has spawned,” Brin said.

Verily has been working on smart lenses that can help monitor health in, for example, people with diabetes, in partnership with Novartis.

Novartis last year delayed trials of the auto-focus lens, although it said that work on the project was progressing.

Verily has recently filed a patent for a smart lens concept that is surgically inserted into the eyeball. The eye’s natural lens is removed and a fluid inserted into the eye that fuses with the Google lens capsule, which includes a microprocessor and battery.