Health Beat: Google Glass: An eye for doctors

Health Beat: Google Glass: An eye for doctors

SEATTLE - Athletes watch recordings of their performances to improve their game. Now, doctors can do the same with a new device that is allowing surgeons to document their operations in a high-tech way.

It looks like something from a sci-fi movie, but the device lets surgeon Heather Evans see her work like never before.

Evans is one of about 5,000 explorers chosen to test Google Glass. She won the chance with a tweet she entered in an online contest.

"It was just an opportunity to discover not just a new product, but a new way of interacting with people," said Evans, assistant professor of surgery, UW Medicine.

The device's eye-level screen projects info right into the wearer's retina, which could allow doctors to instantly see charts or lab results. It also lets users record and transmit exactly what they're seeing.

"The design allows for hands-free use and control of the device, which in the operating room, obviously, is quite important because of sterility," Evans said.

While she's only testing it, Evans believes it will be a great way to document surgeries.

"Instead of having to write that down, or dictate that, or type it in after the case is over, I immediately have a record of what happened," Evans explained.

It could also be useful for training. Evans has used it to instruct another surgeon while looking at video recorded from the device.

"The idea is to be able to coach someone, to be able to watch what they're doing through their own eyes," Evans said.

Some downsides, however, include patient privacy, and interacting with the gadget can be a distraction during surgery.

Still, Evans is excited about the possibilities.

"Immediately, as soon as I put the unit on and started taking photographs and video, there was this sense of wonder," Evans said.

If all goes well, it could be the future of recorded medicine.

Ironically, when Evans won the contest, she had to buy the Google Glass device for $1,500. The device is expected to be available for sale next year.

It has a five megapixel camera, 16-gigs of storage, can respond to voice commands, and allows the user the ability to control the device by winking their right eye.

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