Google Glass finds a home in the operating theatre

It’s fair to say that Google Glass struggled to find a natural place in the world during its ill-fated “Explorer” period – except in the homes of those with more money than sense, given its crazy early adopter price. But the forgotten wearable has found an unlikely second lease of life by doing the same for heart patients.


Canadian Journal of Cardiology documents how cardiologists from the Institute of Cardiology in Warsaw successfully operated on a 49-year-old man’s chronically blocked right coronary artery with a little assistance from CTA projections on a Google Glass display.google_glass_surgery

Typically, coronary CTAs are displayed on separate monitors in a catheterisation laboratory, but this can be both costly and awkward. The cardiologists got around this problem by using a Glass app developed specifically for the project by physicists from the University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling. The app responds to voice commands, and includes a zoom function, allowing the cardiologists to visualise the distal coronary vessel and match the guide wire to the blocked vessel segment.

The result? Two drug-eluting stents were successfully implanted.

Could the discontinued Google Glass be optimised further for the operating theatre? Lead investigator Maksymilian Opolski reckons that “wearable devices might be potentially equipped with filter lenses that provide protection against X-radiation”.

It’s not the first time that Google Glass has been considered for use in the medical field. Back in 2013, Philips Healthcare produced a proof of concept video showing Google Glass providing real time surgical data.

Use in the operating theatre neatly sidesteps one of the biggest issues the Glass had out in the wild: it looks pretty silly on your face. As cardiologists are dressed practically and not for fashion awards, the undeniably useful functionality of Google Glass gets its chance to shine – and in a truly life-changing fashion, too.

Combine this with another much-derided piece of tech – the Xbox Kinect – and you’ve got a transformed operating theatre. Back in 2012, Microsoft demonstrated the use of Kinect to view surgical footage without risking contaminating anything. Neat. 

READ THIS NEXT: Five ways 3D printing is transforming medicine.

Image: Ted Eytan, used under Creative Commons

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