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‘Google Glass' makes debut in Valley operating room

Google Glass team member Salil Pandit wears Google Glasses at a booth at Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A Valley doctor has made history. He recently performed surgery wearing very high-tech glasses.

Imagine wearing a computer on your head. It can be controlled by moving your body and with your voice. It's called "Google Glass" -- it's the software giant's latest innovation and promises to revolutionize the medical field.

Doctor Gil Ortega is an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon at Scottsdale Healthcare Medical Center. He was tasked with doing the world's first orthopedic trauma surgery wearing the Google Glass.

"Just imagine a regular pair of glasses, that have a titanium base. Over the right eye you have a less than a centimeter by centimeter image," said Dr. Ortega describing how the glasses look.

By tilting your head or giving it voice commands it can take pictures, record a video, and stream it live for others to watch.

"You have the ability to have the audio and video," he said, "through your audience that's been selected through your Hangouts through a secure channel."

He says wearing the glasses is like inviting other doctors to see what you're doing.

"It can be a big advantage that way," added Dr. Ortega. "A lot of times even when we have medical students or residents, they may actually be scrubbed in the operating room in the procedure, but they don't always have the surgeon's viewpoint they may not be in that field of view."

He explains in cases where cameras are in place next to surgery lights, sometimes doctor's heads can block the images. With the Google Glass, it projects exactly what the doctor is seeing.

The Google Glass can also be used like a smartphone. If the doctor has a question about something mid-surgery, he or she can simply "ask" the device to do a search and the results will pop up on the Google Glass.

Dr. Ortega was chosen by Google earlier this year to pioneer the use of the Google Glass during medical procedures. The device, which is slated to be available to the general public later this year was put to the test Wednesday with doctors around the world performing various types of surgeries and recording it, while others watched. In Dr. Ortega's case he performed surgery to repair a knee fracture.

There are some possible setbacks to the technology, including patient privacy and concerns over how Google may use the information during medical procedures. It's unclear what kind of guidelines has been released to deal with sensitive medical information.

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