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Google Glass: An Eye For Doctors

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SEATTLE (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Athletes watch recordings of their performances to improve their game. Now, doctors can do the same with a new device that is allowing surgeons to document their operations in a high-tech way.

It looks like something from a sci-fi movie, but this device lets surgeon Heather Evans see her work like never before.

Dr. Evans is one of about 5,000 explorers chosen to test Google Glass. She won the chance with a tweet she entered in an online contest.

"It was just an opportunity to discover not just a new product, but a new way of interacting with people," Heather Evans, MD, MS, FACS, Assistant Professor of Surgery, UW Medicine, told Ivanhoe.

The device's eye-level screen projects info right into the wearer's retina, which could allow doctors to instantly see charts or lab results. It also lets users record and transmit exactly what they're seeing.

"The design allows for hands-free use and control of the device, which in the operating room, obviously, is quite important because of sterility," Dr. Evans said.

While she's only testing it, Evans believes it will be a great way to document surgeries.

"Instead of having to write that down, or dictate that, or type it in after the case is over, I immediately have a record of what happened," Dr. Evans explained.

It could also be useful for training. Dr. Evans has used it to instruct another surgeon while looking at video recorded from the device.

"The idea is to be able to coach someone, to be able to watch what they're doing through their own eyes," Dr. Evans said.

However, there are some downsides like patient privacy and interacting with the gadget can be a distraction during surgery.  Still, Evans is excited about the possibilities.

"Immediately, as soon as I put the unit on and started taking photographs and video, there was this sense of wonder," Dr. Evans said.

If all goes well it could be the future of recorded medicine.

Ironically, when Dr. Evans won the contest, she had to buy the Google Glass device for $1,500.  The device is expected to be available for sale next year.

It has a five megapixel camera, 16-gigs of storage, can respond to voice commands, and allows the user the ability to control the device by winking their right eye.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

BACKGROUND: Whether reading social media, checking the weather, or simply checking out the wealth of data out there, many of us spend a significant amount of time glued to our smartphones making it hard to do anything else.  Google Glass might offer a solution to this problem, giving us a way to use the outboard brain of the internet while still being able to do other things.  According to Google, Glass was created "to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don't."  The first Google Glass units have been with early explorers since April.  Google is using this semi-public testing period to fine tune the device for general consumption, as well as get consumers used to the idea of wearables.  (Source:www.techradar.com)

GOOGLE GLASS FEATURES:  Google Glass is a wearable Android-powered computer built like a pair of eyeglasses so that you can place a display in your field of vision, take pictures, film, search and translate on the go as well as run specially-designed apps. Google Glass uses a tiny display to put data in front of your vision courtesy of a prism screen.  It responds to voice commands as well as taps and gestures on the touch-sensitive bar that runs along the side of the frame.  You can start a search by saying, "Ok Glass," and take a photo or launch an app with a command phrase or tap of the finger.  The early Google Glass apps provide a glimpse into the potential of the headset.  For example, The New York Times has demoed an app that will pop up news headlines on request and JetBlue has suggested that it could create an app to show how much time was left before you had to board your flight.  (Source:  www.techradar.comand http://www.google.com/glass/)

GLASS IN MEDICINE:  Google Glass in the medical world has potential benefits and pitfalls.  If a surgeon was in the middle of surgery and came across an unexpected condition, like a rare tumor, the doctor could use real-time video to show it to the world's expert and receive help.  With the eye-level screen, a doctor could instantly see relevant parts of a patient's chart or lab results.  It could also be used to teach.  However, there are technical issues that make it less than ideal in the OR, as well as difficult privacy concerns.  For example, there are federal privacy laws that govern against the transmission of patient information, like videos or photographs.  Other privacy issues come up just from wearing the device.  If a doctor were to wear them down a hallway at their hospital, then they could be accused of violating privacy.  So far, medical professional societies haven't issued guidelines for using the device, which is still experimental.  Companies are working on add-ons and apps to make Glass useful in the medical world.  (Source: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022282502_googleglasssurgeryxml.html)

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Heather Evans, MD, MS, FACS
Assistant Professor of Surgery
UW Medicine
hlevans@uw.edu
Twitter: @heatherevansmd 
Google+: www.google.com/+heatherevans

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