Google Glass could have strong potential for healthcare use

Google's latest invention--new voice-activated "augmented reality" glasses--may yield important mobile healthcare applications for both consumers and medical professionals alike, according to an EHR Intelligence article.

As part of its Project Glass initiative, the search engine giant is developing this new wearable technology consisted of a pair of glasses which contain a display, a camera, and a microphone. Available later this year, Google envisions this technology as "seamless, beautiful and empowering" enabling users to share the world through their eyes and to get answers and updates instantly. But, what does it mean for mHealth? 

"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," article authors note. "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."

In addition, the author says "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, when it comes to daily pill intake, the article projects that Google Glass might be able to identify which ones are really necessary. 

However, consumers aren't the only ones that stand to benefit from these high-tech glasses.

"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," states the article. "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 glasses 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."

In related news, in December 2012 it was reported that Google Now, an intelligent personal assistant for Android phones, received an upgrade enabling it to track when a person walks or cycles. Among Google Now's new activity tracking features was a once-a-month notification that creates a summary of a person's activities to provide them with a tally of their monthly exercise. Google's once-a-month summary, however, isn't as rich as the interactive records that Fitbit can provide, according to the article.

To learn more:
- read the EHR Intelligence article
- visit Google's glass website