Google Glass: Longest possible video? What’s it like to wear? Can it empower patients? Other healthcare uses?

I picked up Google Glass in NYC on Saturday last week. I got Shale (of Shale, Tangerine, Charcoal, Cotton and Sky). You can see it on me in the profile pic to your right. Below is a short, 1:08 minute, intro to the Glass user interface on YouTube.

I just wanted to post some initial bits and pieces: impressions, reactions, an experiment to see how long a video Glass can capture, thoughts on how patients might use Glass. Plus, I’ve tweeted lots of links to articles and blog posts about potential uses of Glass in healthcare. The best of the best tweets are embedded at the end of this post.

Longest possible Google Glass video?

First of all the video: I kickbiked (shown and explained on the video) from Bethesda to Fletcher’s Cove along the Capital Crescent Trail. Google Glass lasted 48 minutes. The Capital Crescent is one of my favorite trails. I’m glad I had the opportunity to capture this first-person video on such a gloriously sunny second day of summer. If you watch it, you’ll hear me talk to myself all the way.

Here are a few technical notes. I didn’t actually capture video until the battery gave out. I got to Fletcher’s Cove, debated whether to continuing video capture just to see how far I could get. I decided to shut down and take a look at the battery level, then extrapolate. Interesting, at least to me, *after* I stopped the video, Glass shut down. When I tried to restart it, I got the battery symbol in the view finder (which is how I think of the Glass 640 by 360 tiny “heads-up” video monitor.

I suspect Glass was on its reserves and shortly would have shut down gracefully (I hope). So my 48-minute video from a full-charge to depleted battery is approximate. Routine use (mostly monitoring and occasionally responding to email and tweets) lasts about seven hours. I also get New York Times headlines. If I tap the touchpad on the side, Glass will read a short story abstract. There’s no web browser, at least not yet. There’re just a few third-party Glassware apps available, though I’ve not tried any. Glass To Do looks interesting. That will change. I’m looking forward to seeing an explosion of Glassware. Especially interesting are tools to allow non-programmers to create apps for Glass.

Back to the video. Once I got back to Wi-Fi, I tried to share the 48-minute HD video to Google+. No luck, but I really didn’t think it’d work since I expected the file to be a couple of gigabytes. Then I attached to my MacBook via micro-USB cable. No luck. Tried the Android File Transfer application on the MacBook. Nope. Connected to a Windows 8 laptop, which obligingly offered to import media files. Copied the 1.75G mp4 file to a USB and over to the MacBook. And uploaded to YouTube.

I’ve actually walked, and kickbiked, around with cameras on my head of years: early off-brand solid-state handycams (lousy video), FlipCam (great video), and most recently Looxcie (used for my HatCam One-Minute Interviews and walking the floor at health IT conferences). Viewing the original video file I noticed two advantages immediately. Subjectively, images seemed to cover a relatively large field of view, left and right, up and down, without any apparent fish-eye effect (such as you can see here in one of my HatCam videos). Second, there’s dramatically less wind noise than the other half-dozen cameras I’ve used (I’ve not tried GoPro). Even when I’ve going downhill fast (for me) you can hear me talking conversationally to myself. Only when I turn my head to look left and right does the wind drown me out. I suspect this is designed into Glass. I’m impressed. Congratulation to an aerodynamically-minded designer someplace.

I am unsure if this version of Glass has image stabilization or not. I intentionally did not try to “image stabilize” while shooting. I wanted to see what the result of simply ignoring Glass would be. To my eye, video images seem more stablized than other head-mounted cameras I’ve used, especially after upload to YouTube (though I did not tell YouTube to stabilize either). This may be due, in part, to the wide field of view. I’m not sure. You can be the judge if you watch part of the video. It can still be a bit dizzying on a large HD screen (my wife says). I’ll likely try to avoid jerky or sudden movement in the future while videoing. But I don’t think it will be as much work as before.

By the way, at minute 44, when I look across the Potomac River, yes, I know I misspoke. I was looking at Virginia, not Maryland. :)

What’s it like to wear Google Glass?

As an experiment, a couple years ago, I walked around our neighborhood in downtown DC with a noticeable camera clipped to my baseball cap. It wasn’t on. I just wanted to see how folks reacted. Never got a negative reaction. I did get an occasional enthusiastic question, such as “Are you live-streaming right now?” and they’d be disappointed when I said no. However, Google Glass has gotten a lot more press.

Wearing Glass outside, a ball cap (minus HatCam) still helps a lot. If it’s a sunny day, I just pull down the brim to use as a dark backdrop. Before I walk into an establishment I take Glass off. After I’ve sat and acclimated for a while, if I’m not facing directly toward someone, I’ll put them on. Each time a tweet, email, or headline arrives, Glass dings (only I can hear) and I glance up to turn on the Glass monitor and view the newly arrive information. In settings you can calibrate an angle above which the Glass monitor lights up.

Interestingly enough, outside the recent conference, few “officially” notice Glass. I’m sure some folks do notice, I’ve seen a sidelong glance or two, but no one has said anything, one way or the other. I suspect this is due to a combination of factors. Shale (gray) is an inobtrusive color. I wear Glass over glasses, which works fine, though I think it depends on lens prescription and frame shape. The combo of Glass over glasses appears, to me, somewhat less odd than Glass without lens. I tend to keep my ball cap on; Glass is tucked up under its brim. And, finally, I live in a relatively urban neighborhood, where civil inattention is the rule, not the exception.

I don’t wear Glass (yet) when conversing with someone, unless the conversation is about Glass, that is. I’ve seen reported surveys that as many as one in five Americans look forward to wearing Glass (or Glass-like competitors) but that also as many as one in five thinks they should be banned. I suspect that when we see more folks using such devices, that survey numbers will morph. If we ever get to the point in which ten percent of folks are wearing them, then the percent of folks interested will go up, not down. I’m not so sure about the opposing contingent. It will be fascinating the watch the whole wearable technology diffusion and public attitude dynamic!

As other folks wearing Glass start walking into places with them on, I’ll likely do so too.

I attended a health IT conference last week (Workflow Platform Themes at the 2013 Long-Term and Post-Acute Care Health IT Summit), where I wore Glass all the time, at least until the battery gave out at the seven or eight hour mark. I’m sure that will go up in a retail version. There, I was a celebrity! Below are some photos snapped with Glass, the first of me, the rest of others trying on Glass for the first time.

I’ve had a lot fun turning on Glass “Guest Mode” (swaps my timeline of tweets and emails for a canned series of interesting cards: weather, traffic, headlines, pictures, videos, etc.) and handing them over to folks.

“OK Glass. Take a picture” seems to be the first thing most folks say, so I’m certainly collecting lots of pictures of me looking like an optometrist. Here I am, critically examining Glass’s fit to your ears and nose, then looking pleased when you see something cool in Glass.


Hmm. Let’s See. I think it’s OK!


Hmm. Let’s see. I think it’s OK! (Redux)



Can Google Glass empower patients?

What I’ve written about so far, in this post, regarding video capture and battery life and reactions and etiquette are, in fact, relevant to Glass’s healthcare angle.

So much technology today, including healthcare technology, is driven by consumer electronics and digital entertainment. Glass (and its cloud infrastructure and app ecosystem) won’t evolve and improve as fast as it might, unless it takes off in everyday life. What I’ve described so far is as close to everyday life as I can get. It’s my everyday life. I like filming stuff with cameras on my head. I like walking into restaurants and coffee houses and accessing tweets and emails, without causing anxiety. And, while this momentary, mostly positive, notoriety is not exactly representative of a future steady-state taking-such-tech-for-granted, it is happening to me and I am having fun with it.

In that light, I do have some initial thoughts about Glass in healthcare, though I’d put it the other way. I have thoughts about healthcare in a larger society of people wearing Glass. I’ve heard some folks worry about what will patients think when their physician wears Glass. (Some of the more lurid rumination involves gynecologists and YouTube. Honest.) Glass, used by medical workers, will be a useful enabling technology. It’ll be just another medical instrument, less intrusive than the old-fashioned head mirror physicians used to wear.


But Glass won’t be nearly as “disruptive” and “transformative” as when lots of people, including patients, wear Glass. The question isn’t what patients will think of physicians, nurses and physician assistants wearing Glass, but what physicians, nurses and physician assistants will think of patients wearing Glass.

I’m thinking of three broad classes of people.

First of all there are the healthy, who want to stay that way. I’m looking forward (well, sort of) to Glassware that, when I reach for that second slice of cheesecake, tells me, during the 30-seconds or so I take to reach of for it, how many calories it represents and that 65-percent of my Twitter friends forego (forwent?) that second slice.

Second, when I see a specialist, and he or she rattles off a list of options and contraindications while heading out the exam room door, I’ll have not only a video to review, but also set of links to explore.

Third, when I am weak and bed-ridden someday, perhaps not even able to lift a mouse, let alone a tablet, I’d like to be able to nod my head, or rasp “OK Glass,” and see and respond to messages from relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

Here’s another possible use of Glass by hospital patients…

Recently, I tweeted about a historic first. I tweeted about the first mention of Google Glass in healthcare that I’ve seen on the DrudgeReport.

But I have in mind another historic first (perhaps it’s already happened!). Someone, somewhere, is going to come out of surgery, and, as they groggily come out from under anesthesia, their first words will be: “Where’s my Glass? Could you put it on me? OK Glass…”

Links to healthcare uses?

Below are my #GoogleGlass healthcare related tweets that have links to interesting articles, videos, and blog posts…

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  1. Posted June 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    howdy Dr Webster

    I disagree with your assessment about patients using Glass. Beyond the silicon valley elite, and tech geeks, I see no reason why consumers should wear Glass. I find all of the apps to be completely trivial in scope - see this to learn more.

    But doctors will use Glass in major ways. It will change how they provide healthcare. Yes, it will be the new mirror on the forehead.

  2. chuckwebster
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Cool! I love a good honest disagreement.

    You may be right. I hope not. And I’m sure Google hopes not!

    I’m having a related discussion with Haydn Shaughnessy, on his Forbes blog about today’s post:

    Why Google Glass Will Not Be Another iPhone

    The more the merrier!

    I hope Glass will be a big success both inside and outside of healthcare. In this era of the empowered patient, I’d like patients and physicians to really see “eye-to-eye.”

    Anyway, even if a patient doesn’t have his or her own Glass, I can imagine them being handed one on admission to the hospital. It could be used to help them navigate from appointment to appointment, deliver educational videos and tips, and generally help pass the time, as much as, or even more than, the hospital room TV.

    Love your tweets at and am hearing great things about your company:

    BTW Please call me Chuck

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