The tears in your eyes carry a lot of information about you, so why not monitor your vitals with a contact lens?
That idea is being taken seriously by Microsoft Research and the University of Washington. In a joint research project, the two institutions are developing a contact lens equipped with a glucose sensor that can monitor blood sugar and transmit the data wirelessly to another device.
This would be a big help to people with Type I diabetes patients, who must monitor their blood sugar daily by actually drawing blood several times a day. Tear film can show blood sugar levels, but getting it from the eye is difficult, short of having an onion handy to stimulate tearing.
A contact lens designed to analyze enzymes from glucose in tears could solve that problem. Microsoft Researcher Desney Tan told Gizmag, “Professor Zhang’s lab has been largely using nanostructured optical probes embedded in hydrophilic hydrogen lenses, and they’ve had some successes recently.” He said, “As the enzyme interacts with the tear fluid, specific measurements are made by observing the change in current measured by bio-compatible electrodes on the contact lens.”
Babak Parviz, of at the University of Washington was also on the team. In November 2011, his team put an LED into a contact lens that lights up when it receives a signal.
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The concept of using a lens is part of a larger project at Microsoft: building user interfaces with computers that are seamless. In science fiction, people have been known to call up information that appears on an eye display (like the scenes with the robotic assassin in Terminator) or use simple gestures (as in The Minority Report). The latter is almost possible today, but there is still a lot of room for advancement.
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