How Google’s “Moonshot” Initiatives Could Change Healthcare

It seems like Google has ventured into every aspect of daily life, and Google X serves to broaden that expanse even further. Google X is the research division of Google that seeks to develop technological advancements. Google refers to many of the Google X projects as moonshots because they offer “science fiction-sounding solutions” to solve common problems. Healthcare is one of the many areas where Google X hopes to use these moonshot projects to offer innovative solutions.

Smart Contact Lenses

One of Google X’s success stories in the healthcare field comes from prototype contact lenses that help manage diabetes. The contact lenses contain a very thin microchip that can detect glucose levels in the wearer’s tears. Google’s smart contact lenses will constantly monitor and store data on glucose levels. The data collected by the lenses can transmit to the wearer’s mobile phone to alert her or him to when glucose levels fall outside of a healthy range.

Currently, diabetics must check their glucose levels with finger sticks that use a drop of blood. Google’s contact lenses avoid painful finger sticks and allow for better tracking of glucose levels. These features make it more convenient to manage diabetes, hopefully reducing the number of complications related to poor management of the disease.

3-D Imaging

Another of Google’s moonshot projects involves 3-D imaging capabilities that are compatible with smartphones and tablets. The idea of 3-D imaging isn’t new, but there are not current options for doing this from mobile technology. From a healthcare standpoint, the opportunity to bring a tablet into the exam room to explain a patient’s condition could be very helpful. Google’s work on this type of imaging technology can also cut the price and make it accessible to other fields in medicine that rely heavily on imaging.

Baseline Study

Google X’s Baseline Study is a moonshot project that seeks to compile the characteristics of a healthy group of people to identify the traits of healthy people. This is more than just a questionnaire asking about your eating and exercise habits. Healthy volunteers submit to testing to look at everything from their genetic profiles to specific markers in their blood.

The project collects genetic information and biochemical characteristics that Google will compile into a database. Using Google’s data processing power, doctors and scientists can spot characteristics that a sick person might be missing. This could lead to earlier detection of chronic diseases.

Bringing It Together

With technology such as smart contact lenses, convenient 3-D imaging, and a bank of information about the human body, Google is using innovation to improve the healthcare field. Bring all of Google’s moonshot projects together, and scientists have the tools to better understand how the human body works and the mechanisms behind certain diseases.

The information learned from these technology advancements can help doctors catch diseases sooner and develop medicines that work more effectively. As Google’s moonshot projects continue to develop more technology, more affordable and higher quality healthcare will be accessible to everyone.

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