FDA, Google X staff meet over possible medical device

Adding fuel to speculation that a new Google product involving biosensors may be in the works, employees from the secretive Google X lab that developed wireless computerized glasses have met with U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials who regulate eye devices and diagnostics for heart conditions, according to a news report published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The meeting at FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., which included Google staff, was classified by the regulatory agency as a "meet and greet." The FDA's spokeswoman confirmed the meeting but declined to provide further information, the article states. 

A Google spokeswoman didn't return messages seeking comment on the company's meeting with the FDA, the article reports. However, it was disclosed that some of the Google employees that attended the meeting have done research on sensors, including contact lenses that help wearers monitor their biological data. Google Glass and other products are being developed by the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's Google X research group, in order to expand beyond its core search engine business.

Due to technical limitations and regulatory hurdles, it could still be years before Google Glass sees wide use in healthcare with mobile apps. Interoperability, in particular, is a stumbling block to implementing Google Glass in healthcare settings, according to Lynne Dunbrack, research vice president with IDC Health Insights. As a result, Dunbrack believes this will delay the implementation of Google Glass in clinical settings. She expects the industry won't see any commercially available Google Glass apps until the end of 2014 or later. 

Nevertheless, a Google Glass head-mounted display system has been successfully demonstrated to help surgeons with a number of clinical applications, including monitoring a patients' vital signs throughout a surgical procedure without turning away. The demonstration, which was carried out in a simulation lab at a Boston hospital, showed that the system could be used to provide clinicians with hands-free access to critical clinical information during surgery, and can also enable doctors to remotely monitor a patient's vital signs or call for assistance from physicians in other locations.

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