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UC Davis engineer works on Google’s smart contact lens for diabetics

Google recently announced that its Google[x] lab is working on a novel contact lens that could help people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar, by measuring glucose levels in tears.

Stephen O’Driscoll, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis’ College of Engineering, is contributing to the project during a leave of absence at Google[x].

This contact lens can help diabetics monitor their blood glucose. (Google image).

This contact lens can help diabetics monitor their blood glucose. (Google image).

“We have heard some pretty moving reactions to the publicity from those suffering with diabetes and from their loved ones,” O’Driscoll wrote in an email. “There are still some questions to answer and work to do but such feedback is a big motivation to get this completed.”

This project builds on work begun at the University of Washington by Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, both now working at Google[x]. O’Driscoll worked on part of the integrated circuit design and led the wireless design.

O’Driscoll’s expertise is in designing circuits for use in biomedical devices that can be implanted or worn on the body. In 2013, he received a prestigious early career award from the National Science Foundation to support his work on electronics for implantable devices.

Previous innovations from the Google[x] lab include the Google driverless car and the Google Glass augmented reality headset. “It’s a dream location for an engineer,” O’Driscoll says.

O’Driscoll said he was grateful to the university, the College of Engineering and his department for giving him the opportunity to take an unpaid leave at Google.

“It has been a great experience to contribute to a device which may change many people’s lives for the better and to work with the resources that allow us to turn a research concept into a viable device. Those experiences will, I hope, enrich me as an engineering researcher and teacher,” he said.

A native of Ireland, O’Driscoll worked as a design engineer at Cypress Semiconductor in San Jose before completing his master’s and doctorate degrees at Stanford University. He joined the faculty at UC Davis in 2009.

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