Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Wearable Gadgets in Healthcare - Google Glass

Wearable gadgets are rapidly becoming commonplace. At the San Francisco wearable technology conference and fashion show last Monday, Manish Chandra, a tech entrepreneur, stated that “Everyone agrees the race is just beginning, and I think we’re going to see some very, very big leaps in just the next year.” (Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce). Even as of this afternoon, I have jumped on the bandwagon and been allocated the Branding Science Jawbone wristband which will track my movements and sleep patterns over the next week and feed this data back to me. What Google have gone and questioned is, why not further extend the function of these wearable devices so that your phone, camera and the internet can actually be an extendable part of you.

And this is exactly what Google Glass is pioneering. The Google Glass principle is to work as a smartphone device which completely frees up your hands. You can send text messages, set reminders, take photos or navigate your way around new cities, all just by giving a voice command. These examples of the uses of Glass are the mere tip of the iceberg, with the tiny screen projected at the top right corner of your vision compatible with a vast range of applications.

Whilst undoubtedly this is an incredibly impressive and innovative technology, the number of people glued to their smartphones is already removing us from reality enough. According to The Telegraph, the average user taps away for over 2 hours a day even though only 12 minutes of this time is actually spent using the traditional phoning function. Concerns have been raised about the risk that these glasses, which connect you to the internet 24/7, will push us further down this rickety road. Whilst Google Glass has opposed this criticism by suggesting that their device provides the option for the wearers to be looking up and around at the real world rather than be looking down at their phone, and yet still being made aware of those essential emails, I can’t see this device becoming mainstream with the public in the near future, especially not with the expected hefty price tag; the developer version costs £985 although the consumer version is expected to be a little cheaper.

However I do believe the glasses could have many useful applications, worth disrupting your vision for. One of these such functions will be in the world of healthcare. This can be from a consumer point of view and offer an expansion of the already wearable devices on the market. The athlete competing in endurance races can have reminders pop up in his vision to rehydrate or re-energise when devices measure that blood sugar levels are falling. Alternatively those who are on a health kick can be advised of the healthy choice on the menu when Google Glass identifies the restaurant they have just arrived at.  

There are a whirlwind of possibilities of technological advances for the pharmaceutical industry as well as doctors using the Google Glass. Philips and Accenture have partnered to come up with a concept allowing physicians to summon patient details, thereby giving them access to important information such as vital signs, allergies and weight, all whilst remaining hands free to perform procedures and concentrate on the surgery or examination in progress.

Other possibilities lie in field of pharmaceutical sales. Evolving from the iPad and other sales materials, the Google Glass can give sales reps quick answers to doctor’s questions by providing information such as insert leaflets as an app on the Google Glass system.  
These huge potentials are obviously still in the pipeline, with the Google Glass yet to be released for general sale. However if we are listening to the rumours, we can expect the Google Glass to be launched some point towards the end of this year or at the beginning of 2014, and it will be interesting to see how the Google Glass capacity grows…watch this space!

For more information on how we think the world of healthcare technology is changing, get in touch with us. Follow us @BrandingScience on Twitter or visit our LinkedIn company page.


Becky Geffen Graduate Research Executive
-       BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences from Newcastle University majoring in medicinal chemistry
-       MSc Pharmacology from Oxford University
-       Research experience in anticancer drug design and the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance




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