Will Google Glass Revolutionize the Medical Industry?

Will Google Glass Revolutionize the Medical Industry?

What is Google Glass?

Google Glass is an augmented-reality headset that will work through an Android smartphone or an iPhone via Bluetooth. [1]

It is a voice-controlled, hands free computing system that allows users to take photos and videos, get maps and directions, open or join Google hangouts, send texts, etc. so that users can always be connected to the Internet. [1]

Google Glass has a Bluetooth, WiFi, a GPS, a 5 megapixel camera, and an HD capable screen that will recreate an image equivalent to 25 inches. [1]

The anticipated release date of a unit for consumers is late 2013 or early 2014. [1]

Russell Holly of Geek.com says Google Glass’s best feature so far is its turn-by-turn navigation. [3]

Approximately 8,000 users will be asked to purchase Google Glass to participate in the beta test. [3]

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Google Glass – Cost, Market Potential

Google Glass is currently priced at $1,500 for 16 GB of internal flash memory and 1 GB of RAM. [2]

Google Glass is in beta testing with the Explorer version, and it features a very costly prism “screen.” It is possible that the retail price of a mass produced unit may be less. [2]

Jet makes a similar product that looks like a pair of sunglasses for $499 with 8 GB of on-board flash memory and 1 GB or RAM. [2]

Tech experts estimate that the market for smart glasses, wearable devices and other head-mounted displays like Google glass will be worth $800 million in 2013, increasing to $1.5 billion in 2014 and to $6 billion by 2016. [8]


Depending on how it is used, Glass can last for up to 15 hours on its battery. [3]

Glass is simple to use and provides for hands-free use while walking, driving or working. [4]

If lost or stolen, a user can log into the MyGlass app and locate the device on a map and do a factory reset remotely. [5]


A new user may feel eye strain until he or she adjusts to wearing the headset. [3]

Very little is adjustable in Google Glass, including volume levels or brightness. You can’t disable the WiFi or Bluetooth. [4]

Colors are inconsistent and though contrast is good, viewing the display in bright sunlight can be a problem. [4]

It doesn’t fit perfectly over eyeglasses. [4]

Google Glass does not yet have a large collection of apps with which it can be used. [4]

Privacy concerns are an issue because Glass users can record photos or video by command at any time. [4]

Glass is not secure. Anyone can pick up the headset, put it on and reach your email, take photos, etc. [5]

Potential uses

Dr. Rafael J. Grossman, a surgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, said he envisions Glass could be used as a teaching tool during surgery, connected with students via Google Hang Out. [6,7]

Dr. Grossman also believes that Glass could be using during surgical procedures to consult with other physicians and sharing that information with providers nationally and internationally. [6,7]

Another possible use, according to Dr. Grossman, is for emergency service technicians to use Glass in the field to get support from other medical professionals, get guidance for difficult procedures and serve as a time saver. [6,7]

One start-up has developed an app for Glass called Farlo. One nurse using Glass was able to live stream video of a patient’s vital signs to a doctor en route. [6,7]

Dr. Grossman believes that medicine has gotten impersonal because doctors and other care providers are talking to patients but then turn to a computer to review, record or upload data. With Glass, they can still do these things but while making eye contact and addressing patients face to face. [7]

One concern Dr. Grossman has is that patient privacy has not yet been addressed through adequate apps, limiting possible uses for Glass. [7]

In an article published on Forbes.com, J.C. Hewitt said Glass can show incoming notifications to physicians of patient conditions and could enhance the vision and perception of doctors and dentists. [9]

An app for Glass might be able to detect cavities that a dentist might miss during a routine cleaning. [9]

Hands-free glasses would also be cleaner and safer to use in health care environments, since they aren’t touching multiple surfaces like a smartphone or tablet. [9]

Other possible uses:

  • Health care providers could run a full check of visual symptoms and vital signs while focused on the patient. [10]
  • Stream images and videos to attending physicians for assistance in decision-making and diagnosis [10]
  • Provide immediate access to “content based medical records” beyond what a physician can see on a computer screen [10]
  • Provide remote training and collaboration [10]
  • Share patient diagnostic images with patients, family members and other health care providers [10]
  • Contact pharmacy technicians for scanning and verifying medications and comparing them to the patient’s medical records [10]
  • Record surgical procedures (with the patient’s consent) [11]
  • Utilize the AEDforYou app on Google Glass to locate Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) around the world, currently available for iOS and Android. [12]
  • Use by a paramedic to document patient care with photos and videos to provide to a physician upon the patient’s arrival to the emergency room. [13]
  • Serve as a tool for disaster management with shareable information, photos and videos and access to navigation tools for dispatch purposes. [13]
  • From a personal healthcare perspective, consumers could use Glass to make better shopping choices by comparing nutrition labels to dietary restrictions; diet tracking; health tips and recipes; personal fitness tracking; exercise feedback; health profiles; health warnings; medication information; personal safety; and overcoming visual, auditory and physical handicaps or disabilities. [14]
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Patient health care could change in these ways:

  • Virtual medicine: doctors and other health care providers could check on patients remotely, which could be particularly helpful in remote areas with limited access to care and in developing countries [15]
  • Drug information: physicians could access patient charts and compare the medical history with drug options, interactions and contraindications. [15]
  • Visual recognition apps could assist in diagnosing patients (e.g., vital signs, skin discoloration, etc.). [15]
  • Instant documentation:  doctors could instantly record and have their notes, comments and patient conversations noted and transcribed. [15]
  • Glass could be used to educate patients using diagnostic test results (e.g., x-rays, MRIs, etc.). [15]
  • Translation apps would allow doctors and other health care providers to communicate with their patients when language is a barrier. [15]
  • Home care sessions from health care providers such as nurses could be recorded and shared with physicians and others who oversee care or are asked to provide advice or feedback. [15]
  • Physical therapists could record patient sessions to monitor progress over time and better identify range of motion. [15]

[1] http://www.t3.com/news/google-glass-price-release-date-specs-and-info

[2] http://www.extremetech.com/computing/159975-why-is-googles-glass-1500-while-comparable-devices-are-only-500

[3] http://www.geek.com/

[4] http://www.engadget.com/2013/04/30/google-glass-review/

[5] http://www.engadget.com/2013/04/27/living-with-google-glass-day-three/

[6] https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/it/providers-navigate-potential-uses-for-google-glass-healthcare

[7] http://rgrosssz.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/ok-glass-improve-health-care/

[8] https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/mobile/wearable-device-market-to-reach-1-5b-by-2014

[9] http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2012/07/06/what-could-be-interesting-use-cases-for-google-glass/

[10] http://www.incontextmag.com/article/Beyond-science-fiction-will-Google-Glass-change-healthcare

[11] http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnnosta/2013/06/21/google-glass-in-the-operating-room/

[12] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130710135311-19886490-ok-glass-find-nearest-aed-and-save-a-life/

[13] http://www.firerescue1.com/fire-products/technology/articles/1461482-Google-Glass-4-good-uses-in-firefighting/

[14] http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/14237/20130312/google-glass-features-revolutionize-medical-personal-healthcare.htm

[15] http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/14237/20130312/google-glass-features-revolutionize-medical-personal-healthcare.htm

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