This Doctor has found a Cool new use for Snapchat Glasses

In the world of wearables there have been a fair few smart glasses released in recent years. However, overall, most of these devices have failed to gain any meaningful mainstream traction in terms of sales. Google Glass garnered a lot of attention initially. However, a combination of price and privacy concerns made sure they never really caught on either. More recently, it was Snap Incs turn. The parent company of popular image messaging app launched its Snap Spectacles to much fanfare but recently disclosed it had written off $40 million worth of unsold stock.

A Cool New Use for Snap Inc’s Smart Spectacles

Surgeon Shafi Ahmed poses for a photograph wearing a pair of Snap Inc. Spectacles inside his operating theater at the Royal London Hospital, in London, U.K.  Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

But in what might be considered a spot of good news for the beleaguered company, one doctor has found a cool new use for his Snapchat Glasses. Shafi Ahmed, a colorectal surgeon based in Britain, has used Snap’s smart glasses to broadcast some of his surgeries. Mr Ahmed uses the hi-tech spectacles and accompanying Snapchat image sharing app to walk med students and curios viewers through the procedures.

While Mr Ahmed has gained recognition for his innovative use of Snapchat glasses, their application mirrors that of previous iterations of smart glasses. As mentioned above, due to issues of privacy and cost the technology has largely been ignored by the ordinary consumers they are aimed for.

What has happened instead is that augmented reality glasses are finding unique use-cases in the enterprise sector. And now we can add the medical sector to that. In fact that is one of the sectors Google Glass is now aimed at as the company focuses on the enterprise sector.

Snapchat Spectacles

There is no substitute for experience, and smart glasses such as Google Glass and Snapchat spectacles are perfectly suited to that.

In addition, Microsoft’s Hololens headset works in much the same way but offers a larger field of vision.

Overlaying the real world with information using augmented reality is a massive step forward for education and training in general.

Ahmed’s use of Snapchat Glasses is interesting because of the potential implications of adopting the technology on a wider scale within a learning environment.

Effective Learning Opportunities

As the surgeon has done, medical students can learn more effectively by being ‘present’ during surgeries conducted by more experienced doctors. In 2018, he plans to beam his avatar into operating rooms with so-called immersive technology. In addition Mr Ahmed will be looking to support the next generation of doctors with real-time supervision and tutelage.

Unfortunately Mr Ahmed has also faced criticism due to his broadcast being open to everyone. The surgeons’ governing body is more conservative about whether the tech-savvy doctor should be airing his work online.

Ahmed believes the opposite however, as the doctor sees this as a great way to teach anyone interested in medicine. The bone of contention comes due to the surgeon also allowing unaffiliated viewers to watch. Presumably, the subjects of his procedure will have consented to being filmed prior to their surgery. But there is much discussion to be had as the innovative live-stream surgeries increase.

Where-to for Smart Glass Wearables?

Google Glass is branching out into the enterprise sector and working with medical research and engineering firms

Ahmed’s broadcast have been widely publicised and perhaps they could be limited to students only in the future. That may minimise privacy issues somewhat and is a common theme with emerging technologies. Still, the surgeons livestreams are proving to be very popular indeed. To put it into perspective, one hernia operation received over 2 million viewers. In addition the same broadcast got over 50 million interactions on Twitter.

Currently, as with other smart glasses and recording devices, there is a big debate over privacy concerns.

But looking at the bigger picture, its clear that these technologies are actually extremely useful for improving learning, efficiency, and productivity.

wearables - Microsoft Hololens
Microsoft Hololens

Industrial users can receive information such as technical blueprints, instructions, and resources that help them with their work.

Similarly, junior doctors can get up close and personal, virtually, as an experienced surgeon carries out a procedure.

In the future, technologies such as Snapchat glasses may soon become part and parcel of learning environments. Ahmed’s use of his Snapchat spectacles is an innovative and novel way to harness technology.

Whether the surgeon can help Snap shift some of its remaining Snap Glasses stock is another matter however. And at a time when the wearables industry is facing stagnation, maybe Ahmed’s idea isn’t so crazy after all.


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