Google Glass: the Latest Healthcare Device for Doctors

In what just might be the first really useful application of Google Glass, Californian company Augmedix has created software for the wearable technology that provides assistance and support to doctors.

The technology is designed to cut the amount of time doctors spend doing paperwork and updating files so that they can spend more face-to-face time with their patients.

Speaking to Fox Business this week, Augmedix CEO Ian Shakil said: “Right now in America doctors unfortunately spend 30, 40, 50% of their day on their computer typing, documenting.  It’s the biggest pain point in their lives but it’s tragic for the patient as well who often has to look at the doctor’s back.

“When doctors wear Google Glass and use our service we reclaim all that time feeding the beast and give it back to doctors, give it back to care.”

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The system works by querying a secure patient database and returning key information about a patient, such as any medication they are on, details of their last visit and key stats such as blood pressure and weight.

This means that the doctor is presented with all the information needed without having to spend time during a consultation looking away from their patient at a screen. This enables more face time with patients and can mean more time is spent on examinations as any queries that arise about a patient’s medical history can be quickly checked without having to break the doctor’s current activity.

While such details may not seem revolutionary, Shakil is adamant that Augmedix has been welcome by medical practitioners.

“The doctor reaction has been extraordinary; we really are taking away the biggest pain point in their lives,” he said.

Doctors aren’t the only ones who believe that Augmedix has potential. The company recently received $3.2m of venture funding to enable the roll-out of the technology across the US.

However, a device such as Glass undoubtedly comes with privacy concerns; Augmedix does require what Shakil describes as “the audio-visual stream from the doctor’s perspective”, and some patients may be deeply concerned about being recorded in potentially vulnerable situations.

In the US, where the technology is being launched, the federal information privacy rules that govern many aspects of government services have yet to be updated to include Google Glass. This means that every patient must sign a consent form before a doctor can attend to them wearing the technology.

There has also been growing hostility towards some Glass wearers, although it is possible that patients may have a better opinion of Glass in a space they see as official and regulated – a doctor’s treatment room – than on the street being worn by someone they don’t know.

While the technology hasn’t received 100% acceptance among patients, in areas it has been tested, such as San Francisco and Texas, Shakil says the response has been generally positive.

“By and large patients are a-ok with their doctors wearing Google Glass,” he explained. “We inform them when they come in to see their doctor ahead of time: this is Glass, this is our service, here’s the security, here’s a laminated FAQ, if you have any questions or concerns you can always ask your doctor to remove Glass.”


Images courtesy of Augmedix.


This 3D Printed Quadrupedal Soft Robot Could Make Prosthetics Comfier

Although it bears almost no resemblance to what we conventionally think of as a robot, this little guy is the latest development in the growing field of soft robotics.

Dubbed the Glaucus, the robot is inspired by the blue sea slug Glaucus Atlanticus, and is able to walk without any hard moving parts. Instead it contains two hollow interior chambers that “interdigitate” – or interlock like the fingers of clasped hands – with each other.

Two input lines pressurise the chambers individually, which bends the robot’s structure. This in turn produces a walking motion not unlike how a salamander moves.

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The Glaucus is designed as a proof-of-concept. Super-Releaser, the company behind the robot, says it is the first demonstration of a method to produce almost any geometry modelled on a computer in this silicone skin.

The robot is made in such a way that producing large numbers would be very simple. It is produced from a 3D printed mould, meaning once the initial mould was created more of the Glaucus could quickly be created.

Super-Releaser believes that the technology behind this robot could have distinct benefits for the medical industry. It has proposed the development of a mouldable orthotic cuff that could be used for stroke rehabilitation or physical therapy.

“When inflated it could provide extra force for reaching and lifting,” the company explained in a video.

It also has tremendous potential in prosthetics, where comfortable fit is vital. The company has suggested that it could use a patient’s scan data to determine how force will be distributed on a leg prosthesis, and create a silicon sleeve that would contain “padding and cushioning for pain points as dictated by that data”.

The exterior of the sleeve could also be given a special surface to enable it to “mechanically lock-in with a prosthetic, providing a solid mechanical bond”.

Super-Releaser, a company based in Brooklyn, New York, in the US, is a collaboration between Matthew Borgatti, a designer and engineer with a background in animatronic puppet development for the SFX industry, and Dr James Bredt, a 3D printing veteran and lecturer at MIT.

Together they have been developing this soft robot technology with a view to creating solutions for the medical device industry.

Unlike some companies, they have also chosen to make the technology open-source: 3D printer files and documentation are freely available online, and Super-Releaser has released a forum for would-be makers to ask questions and share tips.


Images courtesy of Super-Releaser.