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