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Google Glass enters Parkinson's trials

The smart glasses' potential will be evaluated as a patient assistant aid

Google GlassUK researchers are to evaluate the potential of Google Glass to support people with Parkinson's disease by helping them retain their independence for longer.

Not yet available on a commercial basis, the smart glasses (pictured) have begun to be explored in a variety of clinical settings, including the operating theatre.

The latest trial is the first time Google Glass will have been tested in Parkinson's and uses devices donated by Google to Newcastle University for tests of their potential to support long-term conditions.

“Glass opens up a new space for exploring the design and development of wearable systems,” said Dr John Vines, a PhD student co-leading the project.

“It is very early days - Glass is such new technology we are still learning how it might be used but the beauty of this research project is we are designing the apps and systems for Glass in collaboration with the users so the resulting applications should exactly meet their needs.”

Initial studies of the voice-operated, internet-enabled wearable computer involve a group of Parkinson's volunteers aged between 46-70 years and have so far focussed on the acceptability of Google Glass.

The trial, which was co-funded by the UK's innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, will now involve using the technology to provide discreet prompts linked to key behaviours typical of Parkinson's, such as reminding the individual to speak up or to swallow to prevent drooling.


View: the Researching the use of Google Glass to help people with Parkinson's disease video on YouTube

Google Glass can also be used as a personal reminder for things such as medication and appointments and the study will also explore how the motion sensors in Glass can be used to support people with 'freezing', a behaviour caused by 'motor blocking', a common symptom of Parkinson's.

The Newcastle University team behind the study will later present their initial findings at the ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) 2014 conference in Toronto, Canada. There they will show how emerging technologies can potentially be used to support people with progressive diseases such as Parkinson's and dementia.

14th April 2014

From: Healthcare

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