News Feature | July 16, 2014

Google And Novartis Team Up To Develop "Smart Lens" Technology

By Joel Lindsey


Medical company Novartis recently announced an agreement between its eye care division Alcon and Google’s innovative tech lab Google[x] to in-license Google’s “smart lens” technology in order to develop and commercialize a range of ocular medical products.

“Alcon and Google have a deep and common passion for innovation,” Jeff George, division head of Alcon, said in a press release published recently by Novartis. “By combining Alcon’s leadership in eye care and expertise in contact lenses and intraocular lenses with Google’s innovative ‘smart lens’ technology and groundbreaking speed in research, we aim to unlock a new frontier to jointly address the unmet medical needs of millions of eye care patients around the world.”

According to Novartis representatives, the companies plan to use their new relationship to focus on developing two primary applications for Google’s smart lens technology.

The first application for the smart lens would monitor glucose levels for diabetics. The device would use a system of non-invasive glucose sensors, microchips, and miniaturized electronics to measure glucose levels in the wearer’s tears. It would then wirelessly communicate this data to a mobile device.

The second application for the smart lens would help patients living with presbyopia who can no longer read. The smart lens’s combination of miniaturized sensors and microchips could help restore the eye’s natural ability to autofocus on nearby objects through accommodative vision correction.

“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 Joseph Jimenez, CEO at Novartis, in the company’s press release. “This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye.”

While the in-licensing agreement has been formally announced, the transaction is currently awaiting anti-trust approvals before being finalized.

Image Credit: Google