Google Glass Could Be A Benefit To Patients In Remote Regions Of The World
February 28, 2014

New Google Glass App Can Transmit Diagnostic Tests For Analysis

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Google Glass may have made headlines recently for getting people ticketed for wearing it while driving, interrogated for taking it with them to the movies and even physically assaulted for showing it off in a bar, but new research suggests that the device could also be used to save lives.

Google Glass, which is essentially high-tech headwear that has built-in smartphone-style technology, could be used in the treatment of patients living in isolated regions, according to a paper published Thursday in the ACS Nano, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The authors of that report said they are currently developing an app that can take a picture of a diagnostic test strip and transmit the data to remote computers, which they apply to a detailed diagnostic report. That information, they said, could help medical researchers track the global spread of diseases.

“It's very important to detect emerging public health threats early, before an epidemic arises and many lives are lost,” said UCLA professor Dr. Aydogan Ozcan. “With our app for Google Glass and our remote computing and data analysis power, we can… provide quantified biomedical test results for individual patients, plus analyze all those data to determine whether an outbreak is imminent.”

The app developed by Dr. Ozcan and his colleagues uses the built-in Google Glass camera to take a picture of a diagnostic test known as a lateral flow immunochromatographic assay (for example, a home pregnancy test). The device then transmits images of those test strips to other, more powerful computers using QR code identifiers.

Once the remote computers receive the transmission, a quantified diagnostic result is beamed back to the Google Glass user. The result can be sent via Wi-Fi, or the device can be connected to a smartphone if the user happens to be in a remote area where there is no access to wireless Internet services.

The team reports that they were able to successfully use the method with HIV and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) assays in pilot tests. The diagnostic results were available in just eight seconds’ time for each individual test, and the Google Glass user could actually take one picture of multiple test strips and receive a correct diagnosis for each.

“Other medical diagnostic devices based on smartphone technology… require additional equipment to be attached to the device. Or they require extensive handling of the device and the tests,” the ACS said in a statement. “But the researchers note that their Google Glass set-up works without any external hardware attachments. It is also hands-free, allowing busy technicians to quickly go through many patient tests in a short period.”

“This wearable RDT [rapid diagnostic test] reader platform running on Google Glass combines a hands-free sensing and image capture interface with powerful servers running our custom image processing codes, and it can be quite useful for real-time spatiotemporal tracking of various diseases and personal medical conditions, providing a valuable tool for epidemiology and mobile health,” the authors added in their published report.