7 Nov 2014

Through a (Google) Glass, (sort of) Darkly

Author: krb3k | Filed under: breakthroughs, innovation, mhealth, predictions, Technology

As I’ve shared on Twitter, I’ve been working on a capstone project involving Google Glass and healthcare (I realize that’s vague- keep reading). I’ve submitted a poster abstract to MLA for the 2015 annual meeting in Austin, TX, so I’m not getting into the details of the project in this post. What I want to do here is to clarify my own thoughts about Glass, and to share them with you- particularly those of you who haven’t had a chance to play with it yourselves.

Here are some things that I don’t like about Glass:

  • First of all, I have to second all of the folks out there who have complained about the battery life. It’s terrible. I can put on my fully-charged Glass and, twenty minutes later, the battery will be down to 85% without my really having done much with it (I often wear it in my office, just to get used to it). There are some battery peripherals available now, and some there are coming to market soon, but who wants to pay the extra money for that after having shelled out the money for Glass? Of course, if you have the money for Glass, maybe you have the money for the peripheral! I don’t know, and I’m not interested in critiquing your finances! In any event, I’m sure that Google is working to remedy the battery situation (being careful that it doesn’t make Glass heavier since, you know, it sits on your ears) and besides: remember how terrible some of the batteries were on smartphones when they first came on the market?
  • This next thing bothers me WAY more than the short battery life: THE “ON” BUTTON IS ON THE INNER SIDE. Yes, I’m talking about the part that touches your face. It is extremely awkward to have to fumble around right next to your eye to reach the power button, which is exactly what you have to do if Glass goes to sleep. I strongly suggest setting the Head Wake Up feature, even though you will look a lot like an angry horse as you toss your head around.
  • It would be nice if you could go into Settings and set a longer default recording time. Video defaults now are 10 seconds, and you have to either tap the touchpad or the video button in order to extend the video recording beyond that default.
  • It’s not intuitive. I recently worked with some nurses to record steps for a Standard Work scenario in which the nurse (the trained healthcare provider) wore Glass so that the videos would be from her perspective. A lot of our short time together was devoted to showing her how Glass worked, how to get it to record, getting it turned back on again, etc, etc.


There are many things about Glass that I do like:

  • it’s had no trouble understanding my voice commands
  • the quality of the video and pictures is good
  • it has the potential to be really useful in lots of situations.
  • the actual device is detachable, and can be added on to a pair of frames that ships free with Glass (the idea is that your optometrist can put your prescription lenses on it). My prediction is that, eventually, frames designers will design specifically for the Glass device. Eventually, though, I think that Google will attach Glass (the tiny computer and display parts) to a Bluetooth-like headset that fits over the ear. *If this actually happens, I hope that somebody pays me some money!


Regarding Glass and healthcare:

  • I truly believe that there’s a lot that can be done to support quality healthcare through Glass. Surgeries which don’t have particular specialists have already used Glass to have experts on-hand when performing certain surgeries: yes, experts in other countries are “on the other end of the line” watching the video feed of the surgery (from the surgeon’s perspective), ready to provide support. First aid response videos could be loaded onto Glass.

Other uses:

  • There’s an app that provides closed captioning for Glass.
  • There are apps like Word Lens available for Glass that provide translations of written words (also, when pairing that idea with the one above, it’s not crazy to consider that some company might provide instant closed-captioning services)

I’ll probably revisit this topic, but I’d like to get this posted, so I’ll stop for now. Do any of you have Glass? How are you using it?