You’ve probably heard a lot about Google’s new pet project over the past few weeks: a pair of voice-activated “augmented reality” glasses that project data into your field of vision, helping you Instagram your meals or do a surreptitious web search on that blind date in a matter of moments. Consumers might still be skeptical about strapping on the computerized shades, but wearable tech is no new concept to mHealth and telemedicine experts. What if Google Glass had real, useful applications in the medical world?
An overwhelming number of mobile users who download health-related apps pick diet trackers and exercise trainers to keep count of their calories and the miles they’ve run. Google Glass apps might let you instantly look up the nutritional information at the grocery store, prompting healthy eating habits before getting that case of frozen burritos into the car. The glasses could snap pictures of everything on your plate, calculating how much you’ve eaten already, and suggesting that maybe you should skip dessert.
Extra sensors can track everything from your heart rate and blood pressure to the number of steps you’ve taken and your blood glucose, instantly alerting you or your doctor that something isn’t right. And all those pill bottles littering your medicine cabinet? Scope them out with Google Glass, and instantly identify what they are, which ones you need to take, and when.
Nurses and doctors can check up on patients remotely by using the live video feeds, saving time and money by getting a good look at your child’s rash without the need to travel for an appointment. Telemedicine and remote monitoring have been proven to increase satisfaction and reduce hospitalizations, as well as saving the industry a projected $500 billion over the next ten years.
While many of these applications are already possible with tablets and smartphones, doctors usually need both of their hands free when a trauma patient comes into the emergency department or a fussy infant requires a routine exam. Privacy and security concerns are paramount, naturally, as the ability to constantly record and analyze everything within a user’s field of vision raises certain questions when patients are undressing for a mammogram. But a pair of hands-free, voice-activated classes that don’t require constantly looking down at a screen may be the solution healthcare needs to integrate the promise of technology with the need for an attentive bedside manner.