The concept of a smart contact lens isn’t exactly new. However, many emerging smart lens technologies employ lenses that are both expensive and extremely brittle. They can impair the wearer’s vision or even cause injury, and measuring signals from these lenses often requires bulky equipment. Now, a newly developed smart lens could change all of that.
In a study published in Science Advances, a team of researchers from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and Sungkyunkwan University detail their research on a lens capable of measuring and monitoring glucose levels in tears. Not only is it softer and more user-friendly than other smart contact lenses, it is also the first soft contact lens to use a display pixel for glucose monitoring.
The team of researchers incorporated three main components into a flexible, transparent nanostructure to create these smart, soft lenses: glucose sensors, wireless power transfer circuits, and display pixels.
The pixels access sensing data in real-time, eliminating the need for external equipment to measure the glucose. The glucose information is displayed through the LED pixel. When the system detects that glucose levels have crossed a certain threshold, the LED pixel in the lens shuts off, alerting the wearer to the concerning level.
So far, the researchers have tested their smart contact lens in a rabbit’s eye, and they say they were able to successfully monitor the animal’s glucose levels wirelessly. They hope the lens could eventually be used to monitor glucose in humans. This could be incredibly useful for people with diabetes, and it could also be used to screen for pre-diabetes, giving patients the upper hand in preventing diabetes and keeping track of their health.
Seeing the Future
This dramatic advance in smart contact lens technology could one day be a standard medical tool, allowing people to take their health into their own hands with comfortable, easy-to-use monitoring abilities.
Besides glucose levels, this type of technology could be extended to monitor other biomarkers, such as blood pressure, body temperature, or cholesterol. These could allow the wearer to work together with their physician to better prevent vascular disease, better understand their risk of stroke, and much more.
Because smart lenses can interact with the wearer’s natural tears, they could one day be used to deliver drugs comfortably and directly.
The potential applications aren’t limited to healthcare, either. The ability to integrate sensors comfortably into a lens could be used to advance virtual and augmented reality technologies.
While quite a few steps remain between testing on rabbits and the release of a usable product for humans, this research puts us closer to a future in which contact lenses are able to transform our lives.
The post Smart Contact Lenses Could Screen for Pre-Diabetes and Monitor Glucose Levels appeared first on Futurism.
The concept of a smart contact lens has been around for a while. To date, though, they haven't been all that comfortable: they tend to have electronics built into hard substrates that make for a lens which can distort your vision, break down and othe…
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Leeds Teaching Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust (LTHT) is using technology from Zebra Technologies to help it better track patient journeys using wristbands.
Wristbands have long been worn by patients as identification devices, and used to help staff track patients’ needs and their routes around a hospital. But on its own, a wristband can be an imperfect solution.
Zebra Technologies’ Scan4Safety programme uses a special wristband printer, the Zebra HC100 printer, along with Z-Band Ultrasoft wristbands as the core of a system which provides enhanced patient tracking services.
The printer produces a wristband that’s compatible with the Scan4Safety barcode identification programme, which allows a hospital to track a patient all the way through their hospital journey, from admission to discharge. Wristbands are printed for Accident and Emergency admissions, for example, and for newborns.
Speaking to Internet of Business, Zebra’s EMEA healthcare director Wayne Miller explained: “The new wristband enables a digital voice for the patient, taking the patient’s ID data placed into a barcode – name, date of birth and NHS number. This digital voice becomes the password to the patient’s electric file. Scan4Safety records the ‘who, what, when, where’ for patient care, allowing an accurate record for both safety and accountancy.”
Safety at scale
Scanning wristbands at each point of care, the hospital can better ensure patients receive the right treatment, reducing errors and delays. Leeds Teaching Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust (LTHT) is one of the largest teaching hospitals in Europe, with more than 17,000 staff across seven hospitals. It uses in excess of 250,000 wristbands per year.
The Scan4Health system uses GS1 global standards for capturing and sharing information. This is the standard that the Department of Health has set as the standard for care in the UK by 2019, so the system is helping Leeds Teaching Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust (LTHT) move towards compliance.
The system has been well-received by clinical staff. The Zebra HC100 printers are small, reliable and easy to use. Wristbands are printed from fast-load cartridges that remove the complexity of media loading associated with traditional barcode printers. Moreover, the wristbands are made of healthcare plastics that support LTHT’s infection control regime.
Other Trusts including Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust, North Tees and Salisbury have either deployed or are trialling the Zebra solution, and early results from six pilot projects suggest that Scan4Safety has the potential to save lives, as well as potentially save the NHS up to £1 billion over seven years.
Miller says that the technology also has applications outside of hospital environments, in other healthcare situations. “Can we extend the use of the digital voice outside the hospital? Yes we can,” he told Internet of Business. “It may not be in the form of a wristband, but we can use other methods, such as ID cards, prescriptions with a barcode and, in the coming years, personal electronic devices such as smartphones with biometric readers.”
The post Leeds hospitals choose Zebra for smart patient wristbands appeared first on Internet of Business.
Scientists have designed a smart contact lens to measure the wearer’s blood sugar without using a needle. So far, the needle-less prototype has only been tested in rabbits — and it’s not clear if it’s even possible to accurately monitor blood sugar using tears. But if it works, it would be a massive upgrade for people with diabetes.
The lens is made out of the same transparent, flexible material that’s in some soft contacts on the market. Inside, the researchers embedded electronics including a little LED light and a glucose sensor. If glucose levels rise above a certain level, the continuously lit LED light flickers off to alert the wearer, the researchers report today in the journal Science Advances.
The scientists, led by Jang-Ung…