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Is Google Glass Useful in the Operating Room?

update : Prelemenary result exploration Glass for impaired people in public transport

Last Friday, together with my colleagues of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department of the Radboud UMC, we performed several tests during an upper jaw expansion to explore the added value of the features of “Glass” during operation procedures.

The target for this test was to see if the video footage that is being delivered adds to the cameras that are already in the operative theatre. Due to the fact that one can almost literally look through the eyes of the surgeon, medical students and colleagues can view the same perspective, instead of the fixed camera points or to watch over the shoulder of the surgeon.

The quality of the video and audio is suitable for use during operations and other procedures and adds to the existing camera footage, although some improvements are suggested.

In my REshape Center of the Radboud UMC we will be exploring and researching the options of Glass throughout the broad spectrum of healthcare over the course of the next months. This will not only be during other operations, but also in the setting of homecare, general practitioners, ambulances and the trauma helicopter LifeLiner 3.

Google Glass offers several advantages. Medical students can watch from surgeons’ perspective, recordings can be made for later use or documenting the procedure, but also a colleague at the other side of the world could join in, to advice the surgeon when needed. Also the use of imposing protocols or other information to the surgeons’ display would be beneficial.

During the test some possible improvements were discovered. The adjustment of the camera is possible from left to right, but it also would be needed to tilt the camera to pinpoint it to the hands of the surgeon. The video footage during movements of the surgeons’ head (from patient to i.e. MRI) is a bit choppy; a stabilizer-option would come in handy. Since the operatingroom lights are of course very bright, this affects the video by over-exposing the images, an altered logarithm or filter could help a lot.

We are working on a Glass-app (Glassware) especially for use in healthcare that takes care of some of the above mentioned improvements, next to collaborating with Christan Assad and team(evermed) on a app for CPR and finding the nearest AED

We continue to explore the use in healthcare-setting like in hospitals and in the other fields of healthcare, and is including scientific research on the use of it and possible outcome benefits, safety and patient empowerment.

We founded this Center to scout, explore, migrate technological trends (amongst others) into healthcare to create an setting for patients to act as partners, so exploring Google Glass was a logical one, looking to easy access by video-calls with healthcare professionals in example.

Through my connection to Singularity University’s track FutureMed based in Silicon Valley (founded by NASA and Google) as faculty since 2011 a lot of technology is being reviewed. I’m now also leading the exploration and our research in the Google Glass for healthcare at Radboud UMC.

Video’s below are with full consent of the patients, and pictures and videos from surgeons view are actual ones from Google Glass.

You could follow our developing exploration via Twitter via @reshapeglass and/or me on @lucienengelen. These videos show a short clips of the actual operation procedures.

Also we keep

The second test by @reshape @umcn 8-16-2013 abdominal procedure. Research tests this time : taking pictures, video recording, tele consultation, transcription live to Evernote, displaying protocol in display surgeon. A special app for surgery is in development by us, to switch off all but the needed functionalities and to be controlled completely by voice.Surgeon : Prof. Dr. Harry van Goor @UMCN


We also tested it on our Trauma-helicopter and staged a car accident (didn’t wanted to try this in actual MVA) to see if it doesn’t get in the way.


Lucien Engelen

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