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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On the road to a wireless display in a contact lens

It has been developed to monitor the eyes of patients with glaucoma, but the latest technology from STMicroelectronics for a Swiss medical startup points the way to integrating a display in a contact lens.
ST is to develop and supply a wireless MEMS sensor that acts as a transducer, antenna and mechanical support for additional read-out electronics in a system developed by Sensimed in Geneva. This solution will enable better management of glaucoma patients via earlier diagnosis and treatment that is optimally tailored to the individual patient.
Sensimed's Triggerfish is based on a “smart” contact lens that uses a tiny embedded strain gauge to monitor the curvature of the eye over a period of, typically, 24 hours, providing valuable disease management data that is not currently obtainable using conventional ophthalmic equipment.
Sensimed’s ingenious solution is a two-part system comprising the smart contact lens and a small receiver worn around the patient’s neck.  In addition to the strain gauge the lens contains an antenna, a tiny dedicated processing circuit and an RF transmitter to communicate the measurements to the receiver. The lens is powered via the received radio waves and does not need to be connected to a battery. The embedded components are positioned in the lens in such a way that they do not interfere with the patient’s vision. The lens is fitted by the ophthalmologist and when the patient returns the next day the ophthalmologist removes the lens and receiver, obtaining a complete record of IOP changes over the preceding 24 hours.
“Application trials are confirming the significant benefits that our unique platform can provide and the next step is to commercialize the product to a larger number of centers in selected geographies,” said Jean-Marc Wismer, CEO of Sensimed. “
ST expects the development of the MEMS sensor to be completed in Q2 2010 and manufacturing to start in Q3 2010, with availability outside trials to doctors and patients subject to regulatory approvals. Sensimed and ST anticipate progressively rolling out the product country-by-country across Europe beginning in Q3 and entering the US market by the end of 2011.
“We have a strong focus on developing and manufacturing wireless sensor networks for diagnostics and other applications in medicine. This wireless, self-powered, on-body sensor will be used in a product that promises to greatly help the millions of people at risk and suffering from glaucoma,” said Benedetto Vigna, General Manager of STMicroelectronics’ MEMS, Sensors and High Performance Analog division. “Sensimed’s imaginative application perfectly illustrates how, by working with healthcare experts, we can combine two different disciplines and know-how, along with our manufacturing infrastructure, to improve the health and wellbeing of people all over the world.”


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