Novartis and Google on Track to Begin Testing ‘Smart Lens’ on Humans in 2016

Novartis, the Swiss drug maker, has been forging ahead steadily over the past year with exceptionally innovative projects to gain an unbeatable edge over the competition. And it doesn’t seem to be done innovating yet. It has now partnered with tech titan Google to develop a smart contact lens for presbyopia and to monitor the wearer’s glucose levels. The two firms have their eyes firmly set on 2016 to test the smart contact lens. This leaves the competition with hardly any time to catch up, giving the two firms an almost most early mover advantage in the medical devices industry.

These fears were substantiated by the company’s CEO Joe Jimenez, who recently said that the project was progressing well and that the first prototype will likely be ready as scheduled. The companies expect that the first prototype will be tested on humans in 2016. The first prototype of the smart lens will be tested on people with presbyopia (farsightedness caused due to aging). Once the vision correction capabilities of the product are clearly understood, the subsequent processes will be set on track. While things certainly are moving on schedule for Novartis and Google, it be at least five years before the product is launched on the market.

Interestingly, the smart contact lens is the only vision-related innovation that Novartis has undertaken with Google. In 2014, the two companies made a joint announcement about teaming up for smart contact lenses that will help diabetics keep a tab on their blood glucose levels. The lens will feature a miniaturized sensor that carries the capability to provide blood glucose level readings by analyzing the wearer’s tears.

Ocular medical devices are increasingly making their presence felt in the medical devices industry and this has opened new avenues for research and collaboration.


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