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Enhanced Humans

We’ll Have to Wait a Little Longer for Autofocusing Contact Lenses

Our futuristic eyes won't be arriving just yet.

A Complex Process

Google’s parent company Alphabet is a little behind on its previously announced deadline for testing out their smart contact lenses, and now it looks like they aren’t sure when the tech will be ready for wear.

Alphabet is developing two high-tech contact lenses in collaboration with Novartis as part of their Life Sciences arm, recently renamed Verily. One is a glucose-sensing lens that would supposedly detect glucose levels in tears, eliminating the need for frequent blood extractions for diabetics, while the second type would be equipped with autofocusing capabilities for people with farsightedness.

The company originally intended for the lenses to be ready for testing this year and estimated they’d be on the market about five years later. However, a spokeswoman for Novartis told Reuters via email that due to the complexity of the project, that deadline will not be met and they don’t know when the tests will be undertaken: “It is too early to say when exactly human clinical trials for these lenses will begin…This is a very technically complex process and both sides are learning as we go along. We will provide updates at the appropriate time.”

A Brighter Future

Should the lenses really make it to market, they would make life significantly easier for millions of people. Anyone over the age of 35 is at risk of developing farsightedness, and an estimated 415 million people suffer from diabetes, with the International Diabetes Federation estimating that this number will reach 642 million by 2040.

In addition to helping these people, the smart contact lenses would be a major step forward in wearable devices. We’re already seeing lenses that administer medications, give people the ability to see in the dark, act like binoculars, seamlessly connect us to the IoT…the possibilities are endless, and they could be here in the blink of an eye.

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