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Can Google Glass help doctors make crucial calls faster?

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 6, 2013 08:00 AM

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Everyone has been mocking Google's Glass eyewear for its dweeby aesthetic. But would the teasing subside if Glass, which connects wirelessly to the Internet and can respond to spoken commands, was used to save lives?

A Scituate entrepreneur, John Rodley, is working on a Glass app for use in hospitals. "I think Glass is a game-changer, and I kind of enjoy seeing people diss it," he says. Rodley paid $1500 to get his hands on the developer's version of the Glass device, and start crafting software for it. He showed off his progress so far in Cambridge last weekend at AngelHack, a competition for entrepreneurs and web developers.

"We built a system for rapid response teams at hospitals," he says. "In some cases, they are coordinating care with people who might be in other locations on a campus or inside a big building." Rather than wait until those people arrive at a patient's bedside, a nurse who is wearing Glass and using Rodley's app would be able to livestream video, along with vital signs, to the doctor or specialist who is on the way over. "It gives them the first-person view of what's happening at the bedside, along with data like heart rate and blood pressure. If they can't see it, they're not going to venture an opinion about the appropriate treatment until they get there," he says. The doctor can also use Glass to ask questions or communicate with the caregiver who is in the patient's room.

Rodley's startup is called Farlo (Italian for "do it"), and the product is currently known as ArrtGlass. (The RRT in there stands for "rapid response team.") He was formerly a manager at Sonos, which makes a digital music systems, and Roam Data, an electronic payments company.

Rodley says he's continuing to develop the product, and hopes to get a pilot version into the field for testing later this year.

Below is some EKG data that the responding doctor could see on her Glass display, and also an image of what the "base station" view of all the video and data being sent through the ArrtGlass system would look like on a desktop machine. (The "patient" is an ArrtGlass collaborator, Griffin Mahoney, playing sick at AngelHack over the weekend.)



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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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