Google says its futuristic contact lens has nothing to do with Glass. That will change.
Google Glass is both fascinating and alienating, a clunky face-machine that portends a future of default connectivity. It's still too invasive for most people, but it's easy to imagine a future in which wearable machines are the norm.
Google still has a long way to go toward proving that Glass' value supersedes its inherent creep-factor. It's why a few watchers were excited when Google announced on Thursday night that it was working on a new "smart" contact lens that's part computer.
It looks like a regular contact lens (i.e. transparent), except in between the two layers of soft contact material are "chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter." The project, which Google is currently discussing with the FDA, is intended to help diabetics monitor glucose levels by analyzing a wearer's tears.
The lens is just one of Google's many "moonshot" projects, and is being led by researcher Brian Otis, who stressed to Re/code that the project is "completely separate" from Google Glass.
Normally, that would be somewhat deflating. But while Glass and the lens may have nothing to do with each other at the moment, Google is essentially laying out a rough roadmap for the future.
Google changes its mind all the time, especially on matters that concern different divisions within the company. Most recently, its managers said they will keep all the tantalizing home data that Nest gathers separate from Android and other projects. No one believes them.
The writing is on the wall. Consider the announcement of a diabetes-monitoring device a subtle wink that a contact lens with Glass-powers will one day be a reality. Indeed, the smart lens project is being advised by Babak Parviz, who is an old colleague of Otis'.