Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Indian surgeon uses Google Glass to live-stream two operations to medical students

A doctor based in Chennai, the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, used a pair Google's Glass Explorer Edition smartglasses to live-stream operations on two patients on Tuesday (via NDTV).

The exercise was done so that medical students seated and watching two blocks away from the site of the operations, Lifeline Hospitals.

Dr. J. S. Rajkumar, chief surgeon of the hospital, said:
It felt like I was glancing at my rearview mirror while driving. I was focusing on the surgeries and talking to my students at the same time. At one point, I stopped feeling it was an external device.
The first of the two surgeries was a post bariatric hernia surgery, which reduces a patient's stomach size, usually with a gastric band. It was performed on a 45-year-old woman from the United States.

In the second surgery, a man underwent an anti-acid reflux procedure. This type of operation is usually performed to correct a problem with the muscles at the bottom of the esophagus.

The doctors involved faced an issue with Google Glass that many have complained about: poor battery life, with the smartglasses running out of power too quickly. There were also issues with wi-fi connectivity, they added.

While some physicians see Google Glass as a potential boon to medical staff, others are not so convinced. Dr. R. Ravi Kumar, who is the director at the institute of cardiovascular disease and robotic surgery center at Chettinad Health City said:
It's too early to celebrate this as a breakthrough in healthcare tools. Unless it is carefully vetted, it could be a disaster for patients.
He added that there are already similar devices in place, saying:I use a camera attached to my head which is live-streamed to audiences in different parts of the world. So what makes this gadget special? We'll have to wait till it hits the market," said the doctor, adding that the price tag of $1,500 was too steep too expensive for many doctors.
Google has released early, Explorer Edition devices to a number of early adopters. For those invited, the price was $1,500 for the wearable computing device. It is likely that Google will be able to pull that price into more affordable territory once it begins mass production of the device for retail sales.

It will also probably be redesigned, hopefully with better battery life, but one look at the size limitations of the gadget make it apparent that fitting a good-sized battery into it will be a challenge.

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