The newfangled Google Glass device introduced recently is causing quite the stir among techies and detractors alike. It appears to introduce the concept of a heads up display for navigating life. While it remains to be seen how it will integrate or enhance everyday life experiences and activities, business leaders are already exploring how to use it to improve tedious business processes and record keeping. Those of us in the emergency response world are talking about its potential too (articles here and here).
But, for a moment, disregard the specific technology of Google Glass, and instead focus on the concepts introduced by the glasses- hands free/heads up virtual reality “enhancement”. In the emergency response world, we call this “situational awareness”. Emergency responders use their hands…A lot…and in pretty messy conditions. In crunch time situations the last thing responders have time to do is stop, open up a reference or protocol book, put their heads down and thumb through pages of information. The heads up display concept, especially when tied to a robust voice command application holds awesome potential for firefighters and paramedics. Marry this capability with simple interface phone apps and you’ll have a winning combo. The heads up display concept is nothing new for the fire service. SCBA manufacturers have integrated air supply displays into their masks, and at least one thermal imaging camera manufacturer has a helmet mounted clunky model with a small screen that extends down into the firefighter’s line of vision. But, Google Glass is extremely small, compact, and yes even stylish (if you are into that kind of thing).
Some of the potential uses (and misuses) for this technology include;
- Routing and finding addresses.
- Accessing pre-incident plan information.
- Reading confidential dispatch information and additional pre-arrival incident information.
- Streaming real-time streamed video and audio from incident/patient to the command post and/or medical control physician. (In fact, a surgeon recently live streamed an entire surgery to medical students and interacted with them while wearing Google Glass).
- Augment paramedic and EMT training programs.
- Provide an apparatus driver with the ability to see the rear view apparatus camera while simultaneously looking in the side view mirrors while backing.
- Allowing multitasking while monitoring social media streams during high profile emergency events.
- Real time documentation of complex patient care medical protocols (cardiac arrest resuscitation for example).
- Enhanced video conference coordination for key operations supervisors and command staff during an incident. (I previously blogged on this topic here).
- Take and upload incident photographs and video directly to the department website and social media channels in real time for public information purposes.
- Unobtrusively document the emergency response for after-action analysis and legal purposes.
- Discretely record and disclose confidential patient condition and information and immediately upload to public websites.
- Unknowingly record inappropriate and/or incorrect responder actions.
While the widespread adoption of Google Glass remains to be seen, it’s small form factor and relatively simple operations certainly have tongues a wagging. If it becomes widely available (and cheaper) I predict it will be embraced first by the EMS community in patient care settings, and then filter into fireground/incident command operations. This technology can’t come soon enough.