Comment

24.05.16

Medical super glasses are just around the corner

Source: NHE May/Jun 16

Alan Whiteside, innovation consultant in the research, development and innovation department at NHS Highland, runs through the many potential medical uses of the internet-connected ‘super glasses’.

Would you be lost without your glasses? I believe the time will come when clinicians will consider themselves lost, or at the very least hugely inconvenienced, without their ‘super glasses’. 

As innovation consultant with NHS Highland, I’m convinced that super glasses – also known as ‘wearable technology’ or ‘digital eyewear’ – will come to be an indispensable tool for medics. Exactly what they could be used for is something that has yet to be determined, however – although we are working on it. 

Smart glasses are effectively a wearable computer with various self-contained mobile apps. Internet connected, they project images onto the lens while allowing the user to function – and see – as normal. They also have a high-resolution camera as well as voice recognition software which turns speech into text. 

Multifunctional like smartphones 

For the past few months we have been working on the glasses’ development with Summit Wearable Solutions, an Inverness-based company which is a joint venture with a Taiwanese electronics business, Jorjin Technologies. The idea is that the company supplies the platform – the glasses themselves – and NHS Highland will develop the applications for them. 

We have set up a board of medics to consider potential applications. It is early days, but several clinicians have suggested some possible uses. Our plan is to turn these ideas into reality and take it from there.

I see the smart glasses we are co-developing as being akin to the latest smartphones, which can be used for anything from having a conversation and shooting a video to playing online games and listening to music. 

For example, we’ve recognised that digital eyewear has potential in the catheterisation laboratory at our principal hospital, Raigmore, in Inverness. The lab, where diagnostic imaging equipment is used to visualise the arteries of the heart, has a range of screens which clinicians have to check while a patient is being examined. 

Wearing the glasses, it would be possible to look at and care for the patient and, at the same time, view information about heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, etc. 

Telepresence in remote locations 

NHS Highland covers 42% of Scotland’s land mass, much of it in some of the most remote and rural parts of the UK. And it’s in some of China’s more remote areas that digital eyewear is proving particularly useful. 

Our co-developer in this project was there recently and saw primary care practitioners, whose level of training was probably rudimentary, being guided through procedures remotely via the smart glasses by doctors based many miles away. 

There is certainly potential for that in our patch and in other areas where distance is a factor. Camera and audio information could be streamed in real time from a remote location and instruction provided to the remote operator visually and orally.

In a healthcare context, telepresence can be used both for diagnosis and treatment, and can be deployed in ambulances, allowing a live link to the patient before arrival in A&E. 

Training staff and administering medicine 

And there’s more: the ability to record procedures from a first-person viewpoint means that smart glasses can be an excellent resource for training. For example, surgeons can view less-frequent procedures prior to, and even during, operating. 

Furthermore, digital technology applications are available for record taking, combining speech recognition with videos and still photographs. This can be used in the dispensing and administering of medicines, providing an automatic record of what was administered, where, when and by whom. 

I believe this is the first place in Europe seriously developing digital eyewear for healthcare, and I have no doubt that it could help to put NHS Highland, which functions in the extreme northern periphery of the British mainland, on the map as a centre of technological innovation. 

It seems that almost every week we identify possible new applications for this technology, so perhaps it won’t be long before doctors will be at a loss without their super glasses.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Two Cumbrian NHS Trusts approved for merger

20/09/2019Two Cumbrian NHS Trusts approved for merger

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) have had their plans to merge into one tr... more >
British Dental Association to protect children who miss dental appointments

20/09/2019British Dental Association to protect children who miss dental appointments

Community and special care dentistry experts at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have helped to develop a toolkit as a way to sa... more >
NHS calls on remaining social media companies to clamp down on ‘potentially harmful material’

19/09/2019NHS calls on remaining social media companies to clamp down on ‘potentially harmful material’

The chief executive of the NHS in England has urged remaining social media firms to get tougher on potentially harmful material being posted onli... more >

681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

An ageing population means hand care and injury prevention is more important than ever

23/08/2019An ageing population means hand care and injury prevention is more important than ever

Grey Giddins, member of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand, discusses how hand care and injury prevention have become increasingly important given the UK’s ageing population   It’s no secret that the UK’s ageing population presents challenges for the NHS. The fact that we are living longer means greater demand for medical care across a number of healthcare specialisms, one of which is hand surgery. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

interviews

NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >
Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >

last word

The NHS needs more senior women in leadership

The NHS needs more senior women in leadership

The gender pay gap in the NHS remains a hotly debated topic, especially as the final report from the Gender Pay Gap in Medicine Review approaches. Andrea Hester, deputy director of employment rel... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

health service focus

What commissioners need to transform healthcare

04/09/2019What commissioners need to transform healthcare

Dr Graham Jackson, co-chair at NHS Clinical C... more >
From post office to national health service

03/09/2019From post office to national health service

Rob Houghton, the chief operations officer fo... more >