The latest buzz among tech pundits is Google’s Project Glass, and its many spin-offs. Just recently, Apple filed for a similar patent, supporting the already foregone conclusion that iOS would see its own version of augmented reality glasses. Likewise, third parties are expected to create their own versions to interface with the various smartphone platforms.
However, the fun is just beginning.
Recently, a team of medical scientists unveiled the latest iteration in this emerging technology – glasses that can diagnose disease!
If there’s one thing the human body is good at, it’s taking in information about the world around us and making accurate assessments about what that information means. Silently in the background our brains work to determine whether someone is happy, sad, sick or doing okay. We tend to think that happens from verbal and nonverbal cues such as crossed arms, a laugh or a sigh, or a sneeze and a cough. However, there is much more going on than, well, meets the eye. As it turns out, the color of someone’s skin plays an important role in this determination as well.
By amplifying the color seen in everyday life, these new Amp Glasses are designed to interpret signals that reveal someone’s “state, emotion, mood and health“. For the medical community, this is huge. One practical application of this type of eyewear is the ability to highlight veins beneath the skin. No longer will patients have to fear that the nurse will mess up the IV and cause bruising up and down both arms.
But the benefits go well beyond that. Because anemic blood looks slightly different, doctors using Amp Glasses will be able to detect such blood diseases upon immediately looking at a patient. Further, they can detect what mood the person is feeling, leading to a much higher accuracy rate in diagnoses.
Ethically speaking, however, this creates some red flags:
What happens when the general public starts wearing Amp Glasses?
Thoughts become less and less private, and this is a big step in that direction. Often times if we are feeling depressed, we don’t want to talk about it. Or if we are angry, we intuitively know that it is best to keep those feelings to ourselves for the time being. However if the people around us can detect our emotions before we even open our mouths, it will feel as though our privacy was just invaded.
Fortunately, it will probably be a long time before something like this goes mainstream. If there’s one thing that medical technology is known for, it’s the really high price tags!
[Image via O2Amp]