It appears Google's smart contact lenses are so far along, the company has already drafted a report on how it would like to package them.
There are still about three-and-a-half years left into the soft window in which Google partner Novartis projected the pair would bring smart contact lenses to market. The discovery of a patent application published on Thursday suggests those lenses are well on track to launch within the window.
In the patent application (PDF), published on June 25, Google describes packaging for an "eye-mountable device," the smart contact lens, that rests on an annular ring at the top of a tiny pedestal.
"The eye-mountable device is mounted on the pedestal such that the posterior concave side contacts the second end of the pedestal and the eye-mountable device is elevated from the base of the container," reads the patent application. "The opening of the container can be sealed by a lidstock."
Slimming the chances this "eye-mountable device" points to some other product, Google, in the patent, states that the such a device could be configured to collect health data from at least one analyte, or targeted chemical, from the eyes of individuals wearing such a product. Sensors in the smart contact lens would detect analytes in tears and relay the information to a companion app.
"Such an eye-mountable device may include a sensor apparatus configured to detect at least one analyte (e.g., glucose)," states the application. "For example, the eye-mountable device may be in the form of a contact lens that includes a sensor apparatus configured to detect at least one analyte."
The application goes on to describe where the sensors could be mounted on the lens, as well as different ways of possible power generation from available light to communicate sensor readings to an app.
News of Google's plans for smart contact lenses leaked at the start of 2014. And in July of that year, Google and partner Novartis announced a deal that would give the license for the tech to the latter.
Google has brought to the table its chip miniaturization know-how developed at its secretive Google X labs and Novarits has brought its Alcon division's expertise in physiology and visual performance of the eye, Novartis announced last summer.
"This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye," said Joseph Jimenez, Novartis CEO, last year.
Smart contact lenses may get their start with glucose readings, but there are many other use cases for the technology. There have even been rumors suggesting Google could implant some of Glass' tech, specifically the smart glasses' camera, into its smart contact lens.
"Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people," Google co-founder Sergey Brin said.