Google Glass in medicine, all hype or the start of a revolution?

Several months ago, I wrote a piece on how I thought Google Glass could Revolutionize Medicine. Since that time, Google Glass has been released as part of the Explorers project, and will reach the general public in late 2013.

The question becomes, has Google Glass been all hype, or is there something there for the future of medicine?

Overall, there have been many supporters and detractors of Google Glass. One large issue is having a new device that other technology has the ability to fulfill. Why not use technology readily available at this time, instead of an expensive new contraception that looks “silly?” There are already mountable cameras, such as GoPro, that could be used instead. We already have Skype, Facetime, and SMS — do we need another avenue to do a Google Hangout?

In addition, another issue facing Google Glass is the price. With a $1500 price tag, adapting Google Glass would be double the cost of an iPad, which many professionals currently balk at purchasing.

The Explorer Project is ongoing, with much input that may affect the final product design. Google Glass may be a major game changer, similar to how the iPhone was in launching a new realm of smartphones. Another example is the rise of the iPad, which led to the subsequent revolution within the tablet market–leading to the death of Netbooks.

Despite the fact that the technology was there and worked, along came new devices which improved upon the existing format, and thus created a new avenue for further technological growth.

The question of price is also concerning. Forbes recently ran a piece that argued it could be possible for the current price to drop dramatically to around $500, depending on what Google decides to do about the current model’s design.

Of note, the issue of privacy is still a concern. As mentioned before, the ability to record others without their notice (especially if they are not paying attention) worries many.  Even with our current available technology, medical professionals overstep their limits, whether via social media or recordings. However, that does not mean Google Glass cannot be used appropriately, as Dr. Rafael Grossmann demonstrated when he gained patient consent to record a PEG tube placement.

Indeed, Dr. Grossmann and Mr. Rodley have already achieved several areas I envisioned in my original piece on how Google Glass can impact medicine, whether it is in surgery, coordinating rapid responses, or performing telemedicine. Others have agreed that its impact on medical education could be great due to simulation.

At the end of the day, it must be admitted that wearable computing is taking off, and Google Glass could be one iteration of the inevitable forms of wearable devices that will become a mainstay in medicine.