The full range of potential for devices like Google Glass is still pretty unknown, but every day news hits of another possible application for smart glasses. Case in point: yesterday the University of California Irvine announced that students and faculty would all receive Google Glass units as an integral part of their curriculum.
The program will get underway starting this month, as ten Glass units will be distributed to third- and fourth-year students who are beginning their hospital rotations. In August, between 20 and 30 more units will be acquired and given to first- and second-year students when they start their coursework, particularly to be used in the programs dealing with anatomy, medical simulations, ultrasound, clinical skills and more.
Teachers wearing Glass units will be able to beam important information directly to their students, while patients may also be outfitted with the smart glasses to give the med students the opportunity to see their care from another perspective. In all, there are many applications for Glass’s deployment in the medical field, and it’s exciting to think that people receiving healthcare will benefit from the technology’s seemingly limitless possibilities.
Dr. Warren Wiechmann, assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine and associate dean of instructional technologies at UCI, offered up a statement over the new program, which he’ll oversee:
“Medical education has always been very visual and very demonstrative, and Glass has enormous potential to positively impact the way we can educate physicians in real time. Indeed, all of medicine is based on ‘seeing,’ not ‘reading,’ the patient.”
This isn’t the first time radical new technologies have been embraced for interesting and non-traditional uses. When Microsoft first released the Kinect motion-control peripheral for the Xbox 360 a few years ago, the applications were essentially confined to games. Then a hospital hacked the device to give surgeons a tool that would allow them to access patients’ charts without having to scrub out.
Even the NYPD has started experimenting with Google Glass, using the smart glasses to augment officers’ work on patrol. An officer outfitted with Glass may be able to access important information on the fly.
Using Glass in a medical environment makes even more sense. With immediate access to a patient’s medical history, doctors can give patients better care, and might even help prevent misdiagnosis or keep doctors from accidentally prescribing drugs that could interact poorly with other medications.
And wearable cameras are only getting better: the people at Movidius are working on a wearable camera that captures and parses metadata, rather than simply snapping photos. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine personal data being immediately retrieved and presented to doctors wearing Glass as soon as they come face-to-face with a patient.
What other industries will benefit from integrating smart glasses? Only time will tell…