Video: FSU sees optometry through Google Glass


Elyse Kleifgen, a second year optometry intern at FSU, examines a patient with Google Glass. Photo via

When Elyse Kleifgen examines the eyes of her patients, her own blue eyes are doing something no other optometrist’s in Michigan can — record, stream and share what she’s seeing.

Kleifgen, a Wisconsin native and second-year intern in Ferris State University’s Michigan College of Optometry professional program, can accomplish this because she’s wearing a prototype of Google Glass — Google’s first-generation eyewear that essentially serves as a wearable smartphone.

If FSU had Google Glass . . .

She was among 8,000 people who became a Google Glass Explorer this year after she sent a tweet in February hashtagged “ifihadglass,” saying she would “capture exactly what I see (in) diagnosis, treatment and research.”

Google liked Kleifgen’s idea and gave her a pair for $1,500, which was provided by Craig Norman, MCO director of the Vision Research Institute.

“One of the things Google did that was brilliant was they didn’t provide any boundaries whatsoever, except they said you couldn’t sell it,” Norman said.

“We own the glasses now, and the next step in our game plan is to meet with both students and faculty to discuss what, from their viewpoint, are areas of specialty that they might see this work in, regarding teaching and the examination process,” Norman said.

Everyday use

Kleifgen has been using the device, which holds about 12 gigs of usable memory, for about three weeks now, she said, wearing it every day for about three hours hour at a time.

She said it feels like a heavy pair of sunglasses, and although her ears get tired by the end of the day, she’s had no major discomfort with it.

She plans to turn her experience with Google Glass into her senior project, including long-term use and wear-ability.

“For my generation, who grew up watching ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek,’ people just can’t wait to get their hands on it,” she said. “As far as health concerns, it’s just like anything with a personal computer — you stare at it too long, you might have eye strain. In our field, it’s something we deal with on a daily basis with patients.”

Real-time collaboration

Most of Kleifgen’s work with Google Glass has been clinical.

Together, she and Bruce Morgan, MCO director of residencies, have experimented with the remote capabilities of communicating with each other through Google Glass, particularly sharing live video.

“I was advising Elyse while she was in a different room. I had an iPad, and she was able to show me what she was doing, and I was able to improve her technique and answer her questions,” Morgan said. “We wanted to see if it gets in the way of doing our regular proceedings, and it really doesn’t. The screen is up far enough to where we can still use both eyes . . . (and) have both hands free. I also practiced using the slit lamp in high magnification. It worked.”

While Morgan would like Google Glass’s video and photo quality to be a little more fine-tuned, he was impressed with its efficiency in recording and storing patient data digitally, securely and instantly.

Classroom applications

He hasn’t investigated using Google Glass in the classroom yet, he said, but believes it could be used to record lectures and enhance group interaction and activities.

“The technology in our field is really an integral part of what we do,” Morgan said. “We didn’t even have personal computers when I was where Elyse is at. For someone my age, it’s even crazy to think about. I think it’s incredible.”

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