Google Glass for Medical Sharing

Source: NYTimes, Aug 2013

The camera, it turns out, was the most immediate draw for the roughly two dozen users I spoke to. It’s the simplest thing to do with the device, and everyone experimented avidly with the new angles and picture-taking moments it made possible. Video calls — the real-time sharing of one’s point of view with others — were also popular.

In Maine, a surgeon named Rafael Grossmann used Glass at work: he wore his device while inserting a feeding tube into a patient in the operating room and streamed the video live. Normally, he says, only a handful of students can cluster around a teacher, making it hard for them to see from the surgeon’s perspective. “To have someone else see what I see — it’s just amazing in surgical teaching, in medical teaching, in mentoring someone through a problem,” he says. Later, Grossmann reversed the arrangement, having an I.C.U. nurse wear Glass during a procedure while Grossmann and another surgeon offered advice via video call.

Ultimately it’s difficult to assess how a tool like Glass might change our information habits and everyday behavior, simply because there’s so little software for it now. “Glass is more of a question than an answer,” in the words of Astro Teller, who heads Google X, the company’s “moon shot” skunk works, which supervised Glass’s development; he says he expects to be surprised by what emerges in the way of software.

Phil Libin, the C.E.O. of Evernote, told me that my frustrations with Glass were off-base. I was trying to use it to replace a phone or a laptop, but the way head-mounted wearables will be used — assuming the public actually decides to use them — will most likely be very different. “This is not a reshaping of the cellphone,” he added. “This is an entirely new thing.” He predicts that we’ll still use traditional computers and phones for searching the Web, writing and reading documents, doing e-mail. A wearable computer will be more of an awareness device, noting what you’re doing and delivering alerts precisely when you need them.   as Libin puts it, “The killer app for this is hyperawareness.”

… using the pattern-recognition power of machines to extend our observational powers. “If you’re going to put a machine in the loop that’s coprocessing what you’re seeing, what does the machine do that you can’t do?” he says. “This is providing a sixth or seventh sense to people.”

And many people might crave the new powers beyond face recognition that you can get by marrying computational power to human vision. A camera-equipped wearable could be useful for identifying objects, says Frank Chen, a venture capitalist whose firm, Andreessen Horowitz, invests in apps for Glass. Factory managers could determine inventory at a glance; repairmen could have a wearable computer display “augmented reality” animations to show them precisely how a part fits in a machine. Lecturers could immediately and accurately poll an audience vote.

“We’re going to be only limited by our imagination here,” Chen says.

With Glass, I eventually settled upon a midpoint. I wore it mostly when alone, or when working at my computer, or when hands-free photography would be a boon. But I quickly removed it in social situations — say, before entering a crowded cafe. I’d have to wait until everyone else has one.

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