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Google ‘smart’ contact lenses could be revolutionary

Google (GOOGL) is setting its sights on the contact lens business. But since Google is involved, you know this won't be any ordinary contact lens.

The company's Google X development team is partnering with Alcon, the Texas-based division of Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis (NVS), to develop a smart contact lens that will help diabetics track their blood sugar levels, or restore the eye’s natural focus for people who can't read without glasses. 

This kind of technology is would be quantum leap forward compared to things people get excited about today, like smart watches said, Yahoo Finance Columnist Rick Newman.

Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez said in a statement, "This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye." Eyecare is big business for Novartis. It’s Alcon unit posted revenue of $10.5 billion in 2013, which is about a fifth of overall sales.

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 29 million people in the U.S. suffer from diabetes, or 9.3% of the population. “Some of our biggest health-care issues that we will face over the next 10 years are going to be solved by bringing together high technology with biology,” Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin said in a statement.

Newman believes that this kind of health technology has enormous possibillities, is potentially revolutionary and would push us much further into the digital revolution.

A date wasn't given for when the lenses are expected to reach the market. However, Novartis's Jimenez told the Financial Times he would be disappointed if the first lens was not ready within five years. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.  

Newman said, “These smart contact lenses that Google and Novartis are developing [are] a glimpse into the awesome things we might be seeing in while.” 

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