Google Glass: The next frontier?

February 26, 2014

I readily admit I am from another time, before cell phones and laptops. But not video games. I wore Pong out back in the day. Still, I think I have adapted reasonably well as an old curmudgeon to the available technology.

I readily admit I am from another time, before cell phones and laptops. But not video games. I wore Pong out back in the day. Still, I think I have adapted reasonably well as an old curmudgeon to the available technology. We have been using iPad EMRs in the office for over a year now, and the person who still has the hardest time with the system is me!

Having recently purchased a MacBook Pro to go along with my iPhone and iPad, I feel my conversion to the dark side is complete. I am nowhere near as tech savvy as my children, who were practically raised with the devices, glide easily across the various platforms, and make use of all forms of social media. Patients these days are also quite comfortable integrating these technologies into their daily lives. Now comes along a new device that has the potential to impact my practice yet again.

Google Glass has been in testing since April 2013.1 I’m sure we’ve all heard of the frame-mounted computer display and probably thought it was a neat device and dismissed it as yet another tech toy. The recent agreement between Google Glass and VSP to offer subsidized frames and prescription lenses2 will open up the technology to a whole new consumer base. The question I-and I’m willing to bet a lot of my colleagues-am asking is, “Will this agreement drive VSP patients to my office seeking Google Glass, or is it strictly a niche market for the techno geeks?”

I’m not willing to dismiss this technology as for only a select few. Partnering with VSP, the nation’s largest optical health insurance provider, is one reason. Another is there are products similar to Google Glass coming down the pipeline. Smartspecks3 by LaForge Optical, Jet4 by Recon, and GlassUp5 are just a few of the products under development that merge eye wear and computer applications. While all these products leave something to be desired, whether it be fashion or functionality, remember these are only the initial products which will surely undergo multiple revisions. In years to come, frame-mounted computer displays may be just as invaluable to our patients as their smart phones. Much as our profession has changed over time to better serve our patients, it seems spectacles are similarly undergoing a metamorphosis to serve more than one function. The question becomes, Do we want to be in front of the curve or behind it?ODT

References

1. Houghton S. Google glass: release date, news and features. Tech Radar. November 7, 2013. Available at: http://www.techradar.com/us/news/video/google-glass-what-you-need-to-know-1078114. Accessed 1/11/2014.

2. Miller CC. Google glass to be covered by vision care insurer VSP. New York Times. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/technology/google-glass-to-be-covered-by-vision-care-insurer-vsp.html?_r=0. Accessed 1/28/2014.

3. Koetsier J. This $200 Google Glass competitor looks like ordinary glasses-and can hold prescription lenses. Venturebeat.com. Available at: http://venturebeat.com/2013/11/27/this-200-google-glass-competitor-looks-just-like-ordinary-glasses-and-can-hold-prescription-lenses/. Accessed 1/30/2014.

4. Recon Instruements Web site. Available at: http://reconinstruments.com/products/jet/. Accessed 1/30/2014.

5. GlassUp Web site. Available at: http://www.glassup.net. Accessed 1/30/2014.