Stanford surgical students set sights on Google Glass

Students and teachers to use wearables to get a better view during training

Stanford University's medical school plans to start using Google's wearable computer, Glass, to help train students in surgery.

The the university's School of Medicine is using Glass to help students see what a surgeon sees and vice versa, according to CrowdOptic, a four-year-old mobile technology company.

With the CrowdOptic software, one Google Glass user can see what another Glass user is seeing by looking at the tiny translucent screen on the other user's Glass eyewear.

Stanford confirmed the news but declined further comment, other than to say that the Google Glass trial hasn't started yet.

"The hope with this technology is that it will offer a paradigm shift in surgical training, especially in the highly complex area of cardiothoracic training, where a major challenge is creating an environment in which an attending surgeon can provide direct visual feedback to residents conducting operations," CrowdOptic said in a statement.

"Traditionally, due to the restricted view in the operating room, it has been next to impossible for an attending surgeon to appreciate the perspective of the exact field of view of a trainee, complicating the process of providing essential feedback on techniques," company said.

The Stanford news comes months after Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston announced that some of its emergency room doctors were using Glass to help treat patients.

Glass, which is still in beta testing, is helping the ER doctors connect with their patients while accessing the information they need to treat people quickly. The wearable computers enable doctors to retrieve patient information, such as nurses' notes, medical history and medication lists, without leaving the patient's bedside or even looking away from the patient.

"The grand challenge of health IT has always been about delivering the right information to the right person at the right time," said Dr. Steven Horng, an emergency physician and assistant director of emergency informatics at Beth Israel, in an earlier interview. "A lot of our interaction is that connection and making patients feel comfortable. The more we can maintain that eye contact and that conversation, the better the patient feels. Google Glass helps us do that."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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