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Google Glass has the potential to save lives

Harold Mandel's picture

The high tech revolution has within it the power to help significantly improve health care and save lives. Imagine as if in a science fiction thriller that an app existed which could snap a photo of a diagnostic test and send it off to a lab for immediate analysis. Imagine if this app could be conveniently worn on comfortable light eye glasses. This scene from the future of science is coming true now with Google Glass.

Researchers have demonstrated a Google Glass-based rapid diagnostic test (RDT) reader platform which is capable of qualitative and quantitative measurements of various lateral flow immunochromatographic assays along with similar biomedical diagnostics tests, reported ACS Nano. The researchers tested this Google Glass-based diagnostic platform using qualitative human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and quantitative prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests.

A wearable RDT reader platform was used running on Google Glass which combines a hands-free sensing and image capture interface with powerful servers running custom image processing codes.
It was concluded this can be very useful for real-time spatiotemporal tracking of various diseases and personal medical conditions. This offers a valuable tool for epidemiology and mobile health.

It is possible that Google Glass could help stop emerging public health threats across the world, reports the American Chemical Society. Scientists are saying the Google Glass, which is eyewear with computer capabilities, could potentially save lives, particularly in isolated or far-flung locations.

The scientists have been reporting on the development of a Google Glass app which takes a picture of a diagnostic test strip and than sends the data to computers. The computers than rapidly beam back a diagnostic report to the user. It is felt that this information could also help researchers track the spread of diseases worldwide.

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Aydogan Ozcan, Ph.D. says, “It’s very important to detect emerging public health threats early, before an epidemic arises and many lives are lost.” Ozcan goes on to say with the app for Google Glass and their remote computing and data analysis power, a "one-two punch" can be delivered by providing quantified biomedical test results for individual patients, while also analyzing all of those data to determine whether an outbreak is actually imminent.

Google Glass is really neat looking. It appears like a pair of eyeglasses which do not have lenses, but with a small rectangular transparent screen located near the right eye which functions as a tiny computer screen. There is a mouse which is built into the right arm of the frame. Ozcan and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, designed the new custom app for Google Glass. A built-in camera is used by the app to snap a picture of a diagnostic test, which is called a lateral flow immunochromatographic assay. A home pregnancy test is a familiar example of such an assay.

Images of these test strips with their custom-created Quick-Response (known as “QR”) code identifiers are transmitted by the wearable computer to more powerful computers located in other parts of the world for analysis. A quantified diagnostic result is than beamed back to the Google Glass user. When the Google Glass user is located in a remote area without Wi-Fi, then he or she can connect Google Glass to a smartphone in order to transmit the data along with geographical information which is used for disease tracking.

The researchers successfully used the method with HIV and prostate-specific antigen assays in pilot tests, and results were available within eight seconds for each individual test. The Google Glass set-up works without any external hardware attachments. This device is also hands-free, which allows busy technicians to quickly go through many patient tests in a very short period.

We are seeing with Google Glass that the high tech revolution has significant relevance for the improvement of health care. This device is so exciting it makes physicians want to put aside their stethoscopes and join in with the technicians for awhile to get a feel for how fast diagnostic tests can help save lives.

It is really impressive to see Google invest in such directions. Now, with such a depth of understanding of how to effectively bring health care into the space age, all Google has to do next is figure out how to help wipe out poverty and therefore make such dynamic health care technology and the other advantages of the high tech revolution available to more and more people worldwide.