Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has renamed its life sciences division Verily and given it the modest goal to “understand disease at the individual level.”
The division was formed at the Google X lab a few years ago and spun out as an independent company under Alphabet in August. But until Monday, it didn’t have a name. Its projects include developing a contact lens with a built-in glucose sensor, but it clearly has bigger goals.
A video posted to a new Verily.com website Monday talks about the need to detect diseases earlier and intervene more precisely, with treatments tailored to individuals.
“There’s no manual for the human body,” a narrator in the video says over uplifting piano background music.
“A new car has up to 400 different sensors. You know the oil pressure. You know how much air is in your tires. But we don’t do that with people.”
Verily has a hardware team building small devices that will monitor individuals’ health and signal when something is amiss, the website says. And software engineers are writing programs to help identify diseases more quickly and prescribe the right treatment.
“We will understand disease at the individual level — not what makes someone sick, but what makes you sick,” the narrator says.
Google isn’t the only tech company working on more personalized medicine. IBM is feeding reams of medical data into its Watson supercomputer, which it says will be able to diagnose illnesses and recommend treatments tailored to individuals.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin formed Alphabet earlier this year. The move separated Google’s core businesses, like search and advertising, from longer term projects like Verily, which are managed under the Alphabet umbrella.