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What Google's Restructuring Could Mean for Medtech

What used to be Google may be already acting more nimble in the medical devices space, now that some life sciences business have been separated out from Google under a new umbrella company called Alphabet.

Slideshow: 6 Ways Google Could Transform Medtech, and Maybe Cheat Death

Google Glass surgery

Chris Newmarker

DexCom on Tuesday announced a partnership with the life sciences team related to Google to develop continuous glucose monitoring sensors that are smaller and less expensive.

The partnership--described as a marriage of Google's miniaturized electronics platform with DexCom's sensor technology--comes amid a major reorganization.

Google will operate under a new holding company called Alphabet, with businesses not related to Google and its search, mobile, and video products operating separately under the Alphabet umbrella.

"This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead. What do we mean by far afield? Good examples are our health efforts: Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity)," Larry Page, now CEO of Alphabet, said in a Monday blog post.

The new Alphabet structure could give what was Google more room to experiment. The DexCom deal could be one of the first examples.

"This partnership has the potential to change the face of diabetes technology forever," Kevin Sayer, president and CEO of DexCom, said in a news release announcing the partnership.

Andrew Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google, said the company is "committed to developing new technologies that will help move health care from reactive to proactive."

"This collaboration is another step towards expanding monitoring options and making it easier for people with diabetes to proactively manage their health," Conrad said.

Google has been getting steadily more involved in the medical device space. Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon subsidiary, for example, announced in March that it had forged a partnership with Google to advance the field of surgical robotics. And Swiss multinational Novartis is refining glucose-sensing contact lens technology developed at Google.

Google may have put its Google Glass initiative on the back burner in January. But even Glass is showing potential in hospital settings, with evidence that it may even save lives by helping to diagnose conditions such as poisoning in the ER, according to a new report from Huffington Post.

Refresh your medical device industry knowledge at MEDevice San Diego, September 1-2, 2015.

Chris Newmarker is senior editor of Qmed and MPMN. Follow him on Twitter at @newmarker.

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