Novartis, Google team up to bring “smart lens” tech to market


Novartis (NVS) has teamed up with Google (GOOG) to license its “smart lens” technology for all eye-based medical uses, the companies announced Tuesday.

Novartis, which owns contact lens-maker Alcon, will collaborate with the Google[x] team, the secretive research unit within Google that initially developed the technology, to develop a “smart lens” that has the potential to transform not only how vision-related ailments are treated but how patients can track their own health.

The partnership combines Google’s “advanced technology and our extensive knowledge of biology to meet unmet medical needs,” Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, said in a statement. “This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye.”

The smart lens technology involves non-invasive sensors, microchips, and other miniaturized electronics that are embedded within contact lenses.

Such technology can be used to help diabetic patients manage their disease by continuously tracking a person’s glucose levels, or for people living with presbyopia, a disease in which a person’s optic lens loses its ability to focus, by providing accommodative vision correction to restore the eye’s natural autofocus.

“Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people,” said Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google and head of the Google[x] program.

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