On the surface, Google Glass may seem like a fad for the tech-savvy crowd. However, a recent article published in the official medical journal for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons points out potential uses for Google Glass in an unlikely place: the operating room.
The easiest way to think about Google Glass is as a pair of high-tech glasses. Users don the computerized eyewear, one side of which contains a small screen that displays information about whatever it is he or she is viewing. Additionally, the glasses can function as a camera, recording audio and video of the world around you.
Since Google Glass is basically a wearable computer, it’s easy to see how it could be of practical use to doctors. In fact, the journal paper, written by Dr. Christopher R. Davis and Lorne K. Rosenfield, lays out several possible uses.
With Google Glass, doctors could pull up and instantly review medical records and patient images, such as X-rays or MRIs. Also, because the technology is hands free, it may help reduce the spread of infection, as it limits the need for doctors to handle items like pens and paper.
In their article, Drs. Davis and Rosenfield note that Google Glass could be especially useful to surgeons. Since Google Glass records video from a first-person perspective, the technology would make an invaluable teaching tool. Not only could it be used to train newer doctors on the proper procedures for a surgery, but it could also provide a way for doctors to play back surgeries they’ve performed and evaluate their own techniques. It’s also easy to imagine a scenario in the near future where Google Glass would allow doctors to receive remote consultations during surgical procedures.
Even though Google Glass offers a number of practical advances for doctors, the technology is still far from perfect. In the paper, Rosenfield discusses issues he encountered while performing an eyelid surgery using the Glass technology. These difficulties included trouble streaming video as well as the limited resolution of the Google Glass camera.
Despite these few stumbling blocks, there are definite teaching benefits to the technology. As a result, it seems likely that Google Glass, or a similar technology, will become commonplace in surgical settings within a few years. Far from being a passing fad, Glass technology may soon be helping surgeons to save patients’ lives.
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