Will Google’s ‘augmented reality’ glasses look good to healthcare?

Imagine a physician, faced with a difficult problem while performing a surgery, calling up a solution that’s displayed on his glasses. Or a nurse in a remote location being able to transmit exactly what she’s seeing on a patient back to a specialist.

The concepts might be a little far-fetched at the moment, but they could fit nicely into Google’s experimental “augmented reality” glasses, which were unveiled April 4 on the company’s Google+ social network.

The world’s top search engine has been quietly working on the glasses for the past two years, and is now looking for public input on how they might be used in the real world. Company officials say the glasses aren’t available to the public yet, and there’s no timetable on their further development.

“We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input,” the company wrote on a Google+ page titled “Project Glass.” The page, designed to show “what this technology could look like,” includes a video shot by someone wearing the glasses in New York City and using them to take photos, access weather conditions and directions, and find nearby friends.

Undoubtedly, the medical community will take notice. The ability to access clinical information and network through a pair of glasses seems appealing on the surface, though there may be some concerns that the glasses would be more of a distraction than a helpful resource. Also, would they be better (and more economical) than a tablet or smartphone?

Google executives are looking for ideas and comments. I’m interested to see what they’ll get.

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