What can Glass do for your health? Quite a bit.

Google Glass. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Google Glass. Image cour­tesy of Wiki­media Commons.

Last week I got to sit in on the end-​​of-​​year pre­sen­ta­tions for asso­ciate pro­fes­sors Stephen Initlle and Rupal Patel’s class, Rein­venting health­care with Google Glass. You can read all about the class in this  story on the News@Northeastern, but for more in depth details on the indi­vidual projects, you’ve come to the right place.

Step By Step

The adult world is a busy, com­pli­cated, and nuanced place. For the one in 88 chil­dren diag­nosed with autism spec­trum dis­or­ders, entering this world can be even more daunting that it is for the rest of us. One group of stu­dents in Intille and Patel’s class devel­oped an app for Google Glass that helps young adults with autism inde­pen­dently nav­i­gate through tasks that present par­tic­ular chal­lenges for them, like gro­cery shop­ping. One of the defining fea­tures of their app, which is called Step By Step, is the way it teaches users through an iter­a­tive, phasing process. First, the user car­ries out the task (which is clearly broken down into dis­crete steps) with a care­taker. Then, using the “alone together” fea­ture, the user does the task alone but with video con­fer­encing sup­port with the care­taker at a remote loca­tion. Finally, he reaches a point where he can do it com­pletely alone, feeling safe in the knowl­edge that at any point the care­taker can be easily called using Glass’ con­tact list. Check out this video to see how it works:


My Intel­li­gible Speech Therapy (MIST)

People with speech lan­guage dis­or­ders, including Parkinson’s dis­ease, have long ben­e­fited from a therapy tech­nique called Lee Sil­verman Voice Treat­ment, or LSVT. Patients are asked to talk while having some kind of white noise piped into their ears that they have to talk over. The devel­opers of MIST wanted to use Google Glass to improve on LSVT, which does not adapt to a user’s envi­ron­ment pro­vides no long term or real time feed­back. With MIST, Google Glass users see a visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of their vocal output which tells them whether they should increase their volume or decrease it, based on the level of ambient noise nearby. The app then stores the data and gen­er­ates reports on the user’s improve­ment over time.


Social Lens

This is another app designed for people with autism, but a younger age group. This one turns social skills devel­op­ment into a game for kids with autism. five to eight kids in a group with on ther­a­pist are assigned social scav­enger hunt chal­lenges, like making eye con­tact during a con­ver­sa­tion with each other. The kids’ apps notify them they’ve got a chal­lenge, which they then go and try to com­plete. Their Google Glass cap­tures a point-​​of-​​view video of their con­ver­sa­tion, for example, which the ther­a­pist then gets to watch and eval­uate. Over time, the care­givers can see how the kids are doing over time, ana­lyze which sit­u­a­tions they’re suc­ceeding in most often, and assign more chal­lenges tar­geted at the indi­vidual kids’ par­tic­ular needs.



This one is actu­ally a tool for clin­i­cians, not patients, but it cer­tainly could have major pos­i­tive impacts for the latter group. Med­ical errors account for some­where between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths each year. Con­sid­ering the fact that there are roughly 6,000 drugs, 13,000 dis­eases, and 4,000 pro­ce­dures out there, it’s not all that hard to guess why. Doc­tors are human and no human can keep track of that much infor­ma­tion. That’s why check­lists, like those used in the avi­a­tion industry, have been infil­trating the health­care industry in recent years. “Check­lists are rev­o­lu­tion­izing med­i­cine,” the team that built Checked said. “Google Glass will rev­o­lu­tionize check­lists.” Checked is an app that allows clin­i­cians to run through their chek­clists before per­forming a pro­ce­dure without needing to hold a tablet or smart­phone, which we’ve recently learned are ground zero for par­a­site col­o­niza­tion. Here’s a video demoing the app in action (shout out to the new Gold­stein Sim­u­la­tion Center too!):



This app was designed for older adults, 40 per­cent of whom report feel­ings of lone­li­ness. This may sound trite, but lone­li­ness is actu­ally asso­ci­ated with a three times higher five-​​year mor­tality rate, increased risk of car­dio­vas­cular dis­ease as well as other health con­di­tions. A full third of older adults now live alone, and Bridge aims to help them combat the threat of lone­li­ness. Touch screens embedded around the home give users the ability to con­nect with family all with the guid­ance of a rela­tional agent (see here for more info on rela­tional agents). They can use Google Glass to aug­ment this existing system, by taking point-​​of-​​view images of a person’s activ­i­ties to send to family mem­bers at remote loca­tions. If the family member hasn’t heard from their loved one in a few days, they can remotely force Glass to take a photo of what­ever he or she is looking at, to make sure every­thing is okay.