Alphabet's autofocusing smart contact lens testing is delayed

Glucose-detecting lens testing is also being put on hold
Alphabet smart contact lens testing delayed
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It's bad news if you were hoping to try on a pair of Google's (now Alphabet Inc's) smart contact lenses as its partner in the project Novartis confirmed it's delaying human tests that were planned for 2016.

Speaking to Reuters, a spokeswoman for Novartis confirmed in an email that it wasn't going to meet its goal to start trials of the autofocusing smart lens that aim to address farsightedness.

"It is too early to say when exactly human clinical trials for these lenses will begin," she said. The project is far from dead in the water however. "This is a very technically complex process and both sides are learning as we go along. We will provide updates at the appropriate time," she added.

Read this: Life through a smart contact lens

These lenses are different from the glucose tracking ones that the two companies are also working on. Although it seems testing for the wearable that uses miniature sensors and a radio antenna to track a wearer's blood glucose levels is on hold as well.

The smart contact lens story so far

google alphabet autofocusing smart contact lens delayed

After an application for a smart contact lens was filed way back in 2012, Google struck a deal with drug maker Novartis in July 2014 to help make the lens. "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 Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez at the time. "This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye."

It's now being built by Verily Life Science (which used to be Google X). Jimenez aimed to have the smart contact lenses ready within five years.

Since then, there has even been talk of the lens being solar powered after a patent filing surfaced that indicated users would be able to look up towards the sun and recharge them for the next few hours.

Alphabet Inc seemingly isn't the only one in the business of smartening up the eye either with Samsung and Sony also rumoured to be looking into smart contact lens projects as well.

This latest news is a bit of blow for Alphabet Inc and Novartis, but it's perhaps not all that surprising for what sounds like a pretty complex wearable to develop. We're still impressed they are that close to testing just two years after the deal was struck, so we're happy to wait a little longer to make sure they get it right.

Source: Reuters