SURFnet Google Glass experiments, blog 2
SURFnet wondered what Google Glass could do for the higher education sector. Would it trigger major innovations? Would it change teaching and learning methods? Are both lecturers and students ready for a new perspective on the usual (outdated…) methods? Not only are they ready, they are also keen on the idea! This became apparent from the numerous responses to our Google Glass Challenge. Four research universities and universities of applied sciences are now hard at work experimenting with the Google Glass which we provided.
All the participants in the challenge put forward highly surprising ideas, which also differed greatly from one another. The HAN University of Applied Sciences is experimenting with the use of Google Glass in resuscitation training. A fresh view and unusual addition to vitally important lessons.
Experiments with the RobotPatient
Together with his colleagues Nanda Verheul and Henk Poppen, Johan Korten (lecturer in Computer Science and Healthcare Technology) is working on an unusual experiment. The team also includes several Nursing students, Computer Science students and a neonatologist from Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre (RadboudUMC). For several years, they have been working together on the continued development of what is known as the RobotPatient. This is a simulator which resembles a small baby. From the outside, it might look like the average doll which your daughter or the girl next door might play with, but it is actually an ingenious piece of technology.
The resuscitation doll was developed by RobotPatient Simulators BV, the company set up by Johan Korten and (former pupil) Jannes Bloemert. Together with the HAN (René Bakker from the Networked Applications research group and Lilian Vloet from the Acute Intensive Care research group) and RadboudUMC, he is working on a new generation of patient simulators. This RobotPatient helps students to develop their resuscitation techniques and skills. The “baby doll” is full of chips, measuring devices and actuators. Every action and movement is measured and recorded. Until recently, the results could only be read on a tablet and this is precisely where Google Glass is taking the next step.
New technology opens doors
‘Google Glass allows us to show that new technologies open new doors’, says Johan. ‘As my team members and I are always looking for ways to raise resuscitation training to a higher level, we immediately became enthusiastic about the contest organised by SURFnet. It’s the perfect way to experiment still further. And to be honest, to generate extra exposure for a development which we feel truly contributes to better education and better healthcare. As we wanted to do this properly, we also purchased several extra Google Glasses ourselves. Luckily, we have the scope to do this within the HAN and RadboudUMC. Here too, innovation is welcomed.’
The research team regarded Google Glass as an opportunity to bring the development of the RobotPatient one step closer to the future. The wearable is mainly used and tested within the research as an addition to the current resuscitation training. The user and learning experience are the main focal points of this Google Glass experiment. According to Korten, there is always room for improvement here. ‘After all, that’s why we’re doing this. For better education, and we are constantly looking for increased focus and improved experiences and methods. The Glasses certainly help with this. When the students are practising their “resuscitation skills”, real-time feedback is provided. Until recently, this information could only be read from a tablet connected with the resuscitation doll. Sensors measure the pressure exerted on the chest and the frequency and volume of the air which is blown into the patient, for example. It is a shame that, during the resuscitation, the students constantly need to shift their focus from the doll and the process to the tablet screen. This is where the Glasses offer real added value’.
With the wearable in position during the resuscitation process, the student receives immediate feedback. This can be seen in the corners of the screen. It is very subtle, however, as any distractions can impede the resuscitation procedure. A red glow, for example, shows that too much pressure is being exerted. If the light changes to green, the student is implementing the procedure correctly. Audible signals also indicate whether the procedure is being performed correctly or incorrectly. Real-time feedback therefore genuinely means real-time with Google Glass, more than in the case of the tablet which unfortunately requires just a little too much attention. As a result, this is a significant step forward.
It is apparent that fewer Google Glass-related activities have taken place in recent months. Google appears to have slowed down the promotion of this initial version somewhat. A second, improved version is expected to be announced in the near future. ‘We’re looking forward to this’, continues Korten, ‘although the current glasses are extremely compatible with our software anyway. It is open source. This was a very deliberate choice, as it allowed us to experiment freely with add-ons, apps and wearables such as Google Glass, for example. However, we did come up against the instability, or perhaps even unreliability, of the Google Glass. While we are experimenting, which means while the resuscitation is taking place, we regularly need to change the glasses. If the first glasses crash, we just get the second set. And we often end up having to go back to the first set if things go wrong again’.
Added value despite the obstacles
Despite these obstacles, the use of Google Glass as a wearable definitely offers added value. Korten feels that it would be suitable for many different applications, certainly in the areas of education and teaching methods. Or during examinations, for example, when an examiner could wear the glasses while the student is taking the resuscitation exam. The real-time feedback would show what was being performed well or less well (or completely incorrectly, for that matter). This would give the examiner an extra tool for assessing the student’s performance. As well as forming an educational tool, the glasses could also have many clinical applications. This could include the procedure for intubating a baby (introducing a tube into the throat), for example. There is little room for manoeuvre here. A camera in the tube tracks the process and shows the images on a tablet, which demands a literal shift of attention and focus. It would greatly benefit accuracy and concentration if Google Glass were used instead.
Flirting with other wearables
One experiment tends to lead to another and each innovation always leads to other new developments. This is also one of the most valuable things about experiments such as these, with Google Glass. As hardware, the wearable performed favourably in the HAN’s experiment. Nonetheless, the new, hopefully better and more stable version of Google Glass is eagerly anticipated. And “secretly” other wearables such as the futuristic Vuzix are also being flirted with. As an educational supplement, the HAN feels that Google Glass offers attractive opportunities. It provides real-time feedback straight to your retina, with no distractions. It would be wonderful if the new version of the smart glasses also had Augmented Reality. Additional images could be superimposed onto the resuscitation doll as guiding information. Whether this will happen is largely a matter of conjecture and keeping our fingers crossed. After all, Google Glass can show many unusual things but it can’t look into the future, at least not yet.
Google Glass for Gemma
It’s making us curious here at SURFnet, so we are already looking forward to the findings of the next experiment. With “Google Glass for Gemma”, the UvA is exploring the possibilities within education for autistic children. Our next blog will tell you more about it!
The UvA set the ball rolling and was the first institution to be loaned a Google Glass. It broadened the field of language education, giving students a new way to hear and above all to see the sounds of Spanish vowels. Curious to find out more? Read the first blog from this series.