Google set to revolutionize mHealth and medicine with Google Glasses?

by: Matthew DiPaola, MD

News from unnamed employees at the X center, a secretive experimental Google product laboratory, indicates that Google will be releasing eyeglasses with an integrated computer and camera by year’s end.

Think of it as the wearable smart phone or a heads up display…for your head. The glasses will have a 3G or 4G connection, run on an android platform, and house multiple sensors including GPS.

Pop on your shades, log into Google maps and you should virtually never get lost. But perhaps more interesting is the prospect of having the entire fund of internet knowledge readily available to you without having to reach into your pocket.

Will such technology revolutionize medicine? We’ve considered a few immediate applications.  See below also for a chance to win a $20 iTunes giftcard!

1. Surgical Assist.
Surgeons and interventional specialists typically refer to radiographic studies during procedures. While many OR suites are now equipped with PACS viewing monitors, they suffer from some of the same constraints as hard copy films: they are static and not sterile. On more than one occasion I have found myself craning my neck to get a better view of x-rays while at the OR table or breaking away from the table to get a closer look at the film.

Conceivably, preoperative imaging could be loaded into a cloud based server and be made accessible to the surgeon throughout the case without him or her ever having to alter his or her posture. The same could apply for medical students diligently dissecting cadavers in the anatomy lab.


2. Natural Reference
Let’s face it, burying your head in your smart phone does not establish rapport with your patients or colleagues. However, medicine is data heavy and often necessitates that we look up information on the fly. Is there a way that we can maximize eye contact with the human beings around us and still pull up relevant patient data, literature references and best practices quickly?

Maybe Google Glasses will provide us the solution. Imagine rounding with your team. You are standing attentively. You know that you could be helpful by looking up a relevant fact, but you want to be courteous and not seem distracted. Perhaps having a reference open on your heads up display before you go into a room will allow you to do both at the same time.

3. Proctoring from afar.
I know a surgeon who uses a video feed from the arthroscopy equipment to help guide trainees through cases from a separate room. The Google Glasses will have a camera as well as a wireless internet connection. This will potentially allow one practitioner to guide another remotely from anywhere in the world.

Notwithstanding technical limitations, will this technology further revolutionize the data age and take us one step closer to Kurzweil’s singularity–or will it further distract us from direct human to human interaction? Only time and a little experimentation will tell.

If you can think of any other potential medical applications for Google’s glasses please suggest them in a thread on our forum under “General” and “mHealth”. The name of the thread is Google Glasses. The BEST comment as deemed by the team will be eligible for a $20 iTunes gift card to be sent to the winner’s email address. This contest begins today, Wednesday 2/29/2012 and will expire on Friday, 3/2/2012. Check out the forum for the official rules and eligibility. Good luck!
Source: NYTimes



iMedicalApps periodically features contributed articles from clinicians, researchers, and industry leaders with interesting perspectives to share.

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10 Responses to Google set to revolutionize mHealth and medicine with Google Glasses?

  1. Daniel Darbyshire February 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Could be very useful in opthalmological exam such as visual fields.

  2. Baboucarr Sanyang February 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    How about in medical education? Specifically learning anatomy. The glasses would superimpose a labelled overlay onto the cadaver or piece being dissected showing all the anatomical parts. The accelerometer/ gyroscope in the glasses would sense your head position and change the overlay and labels accordingly.

  3. Pratik Mukherjee March 1, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    If the display is good enough, radiologists could read medical imaging studies without even needing to be in front of a PACS system, PC, tablet or smartphone. This could be for a curbside consult, while official reports could be dictated into a smartphone or a Bluetooth microphone connected to a cloud-based hospital information system.

  4. Tania March 2, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    The best usewould be probably during clinical rotations in primary health centres where too many students crowding in a room could make patients uncomfortable. So a single student could be present in the room and transmit the happenings to the other students, with the patients permission of course.

  5. Jamie March 2, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    If a patient could look down any street, whether it’s in their local neighborhood or in a city they are visiting, and interact with a list of local doctors (e.g. PCP, dentist, chiropractor, etc…) using goole places. The patient would have the ability to see real-time pricing and scheduling information, along with the ability to interface with doctor’s ratings and recommendations.

  6. Iltifat Husain, MD March 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Fantastic ideas!

  7. Rob S. Gerrits March 7, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    These eyeglasses can help ASD patients find their way in the world without too much help from other ‘real’ people.

  8. susie salomon February 12, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    could google glasses help people with macular degeneration or glaucoma see both up-close text and distance simultaneously? I am thinking of the text of an opera which is run on a screen on the back of the seat in front of you, and the simultaneous performance on the stage far away.
    These glasses seem like the perfect solution to be able to see both at the same time…

  9. Mark March 4, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    These glasses would be great for anesthesiologists who could monitor patient’s vital signs while watching the patient or doing procedures. It would also be great to view real time ultrasound images while placing lines or doing blocks.
    I’d love to help beta test those applications!

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