Google Glass is being worn and used by Dr. James Grotta, director of Stroke Research at the Memorial Hermann hospital, Houston, as part of the Mobile Stroke Unit. The idea here is to see if Google’s wearable can help in emergencies. Doctor Grotta is using Google Glass to share critical medical information with the hospital’s staff whilst responding to potential stroke victims from 911 calls. Medical workers involved in the Google Glass project are using smartphones as mobile hotspots to keep Google Glass online during emergencies. The advantage of Google Glass is that it means medical professionals can keep their hands free from the device and control it using their voice. “We can start treatment right away at those sites and save a lot of time. With the brain, this is critical. I think this technology will work all over the county.” Doctor Grotta told the Houston Chronicle.
The Mobile Stroke Unit project encompassing Google Glass is part of a program launched by Doctor Grotta with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. It’s designed to accelerate stroke diagnosis and treatment and includes an ambulance unit equipped with specialized equipment, encompassing imaging equipment and a mini CT scanner to locate life-threatening blood clots. The very concept of a wearable mobile computer (such as Google Glass) is still being evaluated by the unit. If Glass catches on, doctors and emergency response teams all over the world may eventually adopt the technology as part of their standard equipment to help deal with casualties. Strokes are amongst the top five causes of death in the United States of America and cost the healthcare system approximately $200,000 per person annually.
Google Glass may have found something of a niche role in medical circles as it offers professionals with a hands-free device that is light and easy to operate (voice control) but provides augmented reality technologies and may be programmed to suit the particular requirements of the role. You see, Glass uses a variant of Google Android and as such, the software can be modified or even completely replaced with custom software. The more forward-thinking hospitals have the resources to experiment with new technologies, for example earlier in the year a surgeon in Great Britain was able to broadcast a procedure across the Internet via Google Glass. It seems that no matter the consumer take on Google Glass, it has many uses and utilities away from the high street.