By Miharu Sugie, News Staff
This fall, Northeastern students wear cutting-edge Google Glass around campus to design innovative personalized health interface technologies. These students will pitch their ideas to computer and information science and health sciences professor Stephen Intille and speech language pathology and audiology professor Rupal Patel for a new course called Health Innovation with Google Glass.
“I thought it’d be an interesting course if we could design health technology to help people using those devices as a way to get thinking about how we might change the health care system for the better, using technology,” Intille said. “I’m sure [the students are] going to come up with great ideas. I think they’re a creative group.”
Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical display utilized through speech, created by Google this year. Intille said that the Google Glass were donated by a source that said they wished to not be publicly announced. Students are divided into teams and are given one Google Glass per team to take home. Patel said “real-world solutions for personalized uses” will be brought from these student collaborations.
“We’re encouraged to wear them around so we can figure out how it works and we can develop something that would be effective,” Emily Vishnja, a junior health science major, said. ”First time [I got the Google Glass,] I got way too excited.”
Currently, Vishnja said she and other students are brainstorming with their teams to create prototypes for their final presentations at the end of the semester. Once the prototype blueprint is finalized, students can work on developing the prototype in the spring semester, in Personal Health Informatics Evaluation and Deployment taught by Intille and Patel.
So far, Vishnja and her teammates have brainstormed an app that would regulate healthier habits and help doctors and nurses organize information on their patients for a more effective and personalized care.
Another team hopes to create a stress-reliever using Google Glass. The team is led by second year personal health informatics Ph.D. student, Oliver Wilder-Smith.
“Pair [Google Glass] with a physiological sensory to detect when people are stressed,” said Wilder-Smith. “Something that will get me to notice that I’m stressed and give me advice.”
This type of application of technology can help health care move forward, according to pharmacy practice associate professor Roger Edwards.
Currently, Edwards is researching how to use computer agents to inform and support breastfeeding mothers, with college of computer and information science associate professor Timothy Bickmore.
“You have to think of technology as a partner in caregiving,” Edwards said.
A partnership between technology and health science is “a quick interaction, very seamless and very personal,” according to Wilder-Smith.
Wilder-Smith and Vishnja said that they were eager to work with their class this semester. Their class is made of Ph.D. students, computer and information science students, college of engineering students and undergraduate honors students. These students had to complete an application process in August to be admitted into the project-based seminar class.
“I’m really excited by the mix of people we have in class,” Wilder-Smith said. “[There is a] variety of different angles and we all work together to have a real health impact and good use of new technology.”
According to Vishnja, working with students from different backgrounds has given her a new set of skills in computer science and technology. She was inspired to enroll in the second semester course, Personal Health Interface Evaluation and Deployment, to materialize her team’s app and potentially do research on incorporating technology into healthcare.