Have You Seen The Microsoft Hololens?

By:  David Kashmer (@DavidKashmer)

Dr. Kashmer receives no reimbursement from Microsoft for reviewing their product or for anything else for that matter (!)


It’s rare that a new piece of technology falls in my lap that makes me say wow.  Maybe it’s the professional detachment from years of physician training…who knows!  But, write it down:  the Microsoft Hololens is amazing…and it’s useful right now.


Recently, as a Microsoft Developer, I received the Hololens I bought several months ago.  I had fairly low expectations.  I mean, yes, I’d read great things from CES and other events.  But I mean, come on, we’ve all seen way over-hyped tech products that promise great things and do very little.


I’d been a Google Glass Explorer, and I loved the idea.  The heads up display, the fact that the device took up very little real estate, and the ability to connect to useful data in a rapid way seemed to hold great potential for healthcare applications.  Once upon a time, I was even part of a company that was developing a system for the device for healthcare applications.  However, once I reviewed the device (see that review here) I began to realize that Glass held great potential, and could be more useful with time, but that it really wasn’t ready for primetime.


Now, fast forward a year or so, and my expectations were (maybe understandably) low.  I mean, after all, I’d experienced the Glass, and the “Glass-hole” (term coined for how people came off while wearing Glass) phenomenon.  I was still a little jaded from the whole thing.  My expectations were low.


So, when I received the developer version of the Hololens, I figured much of the experience would be the same.  I was wrong.  So very, very wrong.


First, the developer version of Hololens that I received has smooth, incredible functionality.  It does MUCH more than the comparatively bare bones developer version of Glass that I’d received previously.  But that’s not all.


This thing is stunning, its voice, hand gesture, gaze, & click recognition are all excellent.  Cortana (the Microsoft voice-activated assistant) is also very useful.  Battery life is good.  And, of course, there’s the holographic interface.


I mean, jeez, I would’ve bought it just for that.  A three dimensional anatomic model, a virtual trip to Rome, and a Holo Studio for creating your own 3D (and 3D printable) models were easy to install from the Microsoft store via Wifi.


The form factor?  Well, this device isn’t super cool or incredibly sleek.  Lucky, with its amazing creation of a three dimensional interface environment, I didn’t (and still don’t) care.  After all, a lot of the accessories we wear in healthcare don’t look cool.


What did I do with the device first?  Well, after setting it up, I did what any good user would do and immediately tested this new, incredible piece of technology by opening a panel with Netflix and streaming a Game of Thrones episode followed by an episode of Stranger Things.  I laughed at myself for how silly it was to use such awesome technology as a fancy Netflix streaming device…but, hey, it could easily handle it and the whole situation was (although funny) truly awesome.  (Not long after, it was on to Family Guy.)


So what now?  Now, it’s easy to take this incredible device into the different fluid, fast-paced venues of the hospital.  It’s a simple matter to use the device as eye protection in the trauma bay or the OR.  It’s straightforward to setup some holographic projections over the patient’s bed and to display their real time info from the electronic medical record.  It’s no big deal to setup a panel with their CT scan displayed while I teach or perform a procedure.  The photo above highlights just a bit of how easy it is to show website information in the Hololens environment.


In conclusion, it’s rare that I’m amazed by a tech product–especially in these days of fast-paced innovation.  However, when it comes to this one, I have one thing to say:


Thank you, Microsoft, for building Hololens.  This thing is amazing and will allow us in healthcare to do a lot of good.  Thank you so much.


…and that’s coming from an Apple guy!


Why Don’t We Develop Talent In Surgery?


By:  The Generation Y Surgeon (@GenYSurgeon)

What We Should Do Versus What Happens Now

When it comes to raw talent, Medicine has plenty.  However, we do a poor job of cultivating the skills of the individuals who make up this profession.  Innovation is about looking from an alternative viewpoint.  It’s about finding the answer to questions others don’t realize exist, and often involves finding what no one else sees.  Innovation, after all, is evolution and we must evolve or die.  Why then don’t we make better use of the talent we already have to grow our profession and innovate our way out of our current issues?  We should encourage these doctors to lead and innovate…but Medicine does the opposite.

They Come In Diverse And They Go Out Looking The Same

Medical schools covet diversity.  Medstudents enter with varied degrees ranging from history to engineering, and bring life experiences from business, education, farming, and teaching.  Each individual has unique motivations.  Throughout the early years of training, however, they are molded into a singular species and then neatly divided into groups: surgery, medicine, subspecialty, research.  Somehow we have developed a culture that encourages students to strive for “resume builders” instead of encouraging creative paths and ideas.  Medical students all look much the same when they finally apply to residency programs.  Is that what we want?

Take research for example.  Many (maybe most) medical students do research during their schooling.  Why?  Mostly because it’s what you need to do to get a residency.  But why not encourage the engineers to build a device?  Patents are just as impressive as papers.  Students with understandings of statistics or interest in management or business could be performing quality improvement projects.  Isn’t that the ultimate research?  Yet instead of pursuing creative ventures, most students devote their nearly nonexistent free time to a research project that they care very little about because it will help them get a good residency.

Fresh Eyes Don’t Last Long And Should Be Used While They Can

I’m not saying that research isn’t good for students.  Quite the opposite for a student who is truly interested in academics and finds genuine fulfillment in the process.  For them, research is fantastic.  It’s the students who don’t love research that I’m talking about.  Some of these are the fresh voices and creative minds that we should be looking to for innovative ideas!  Medical students are special because they are still naive to the culture of medicine and they see it for what it is.  Fresh eyes don’t last long and should be leveraged for what they bring.  It doesn’t take long for the system to gobble you up and change how you see the world, so let’s make the most of their viewpoints!  We should think carefully about how we train medical students.  Let’s mold them into the kinds of physicians we ourselves want to be–creative, independent and forward thinking.

Next Time You Hear Something Unusual From A Medstudent, Entertain The Idea

Doctors find it uncomfortable to think outside the box sometimes, and our experiences can train us to be rigid in our thinking.  But next time a student or colleague offers an idea that seems a little wild, entertain it and encourage them.  Some of those ideas may become the way of the future…

Google Glass Review: Iterating & More Useful Soon

UPDATE:  1/21/15


Google, today, announced that the Glass program would be pulled back from developer status.  The review (beneath) was originally posted on 4/21/14–my how things have changed!  Although Google has indicated that the Glass product will be iterated and released “when ready”, we can’t say that will be anytime soon!


So, enjoy the review of Glass beneath with the very real possibility in mind that this product may be no more!



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Yes, I became a Glass explorer.  Mostly this is because I’m fascinated by the rollout of the product AND because some colleagues and I wanted to use the system as part of a new business model experiment.  Unfortunately, Glass couldn’t YET deliver on our needs.  Our team remains positive about the product (especially the way Google is iterating it and promoting adoption), but let’s talk about the positives, limitations, and features of Glass that need improvement:



(1) No video calls (!)


The day before this latest Glass release (approx 4/15/14), Google removed the ability to make video calls from the system.  How unfortunate!  First, the main reason our team purchased Glass was for the video call feature.  We needed this hands free, video option for our new business model.  Google has announced that the feature was removed owing to limited use and poor quality.  Please, Google, bring back the feature we need!


(2) Glass has a beautiful screen.


We were impressed with the resolution and clarity of the Glass screen.  You can read entire websites very easily, and the display’s brightness in different lighting conditions adjusts appropriately.  For such a seemingly small screen, it does give the illusion of a much larger screen that hovers a few feet in the distance.  Nice work, Google.


(3) Glass battery life isn’t great.


Perhaps it’s just our device–we don’t know.  However, a full charge does NOT last long at all.  For example, as I’m writing this, my Google Glass’ charge has decreased by 20% with little to no use IN THE PAST 15 MINUTES.  There is a feature that, when you remove Glass, it shuts down and saves charge.  We have that activated too.  Enough said.


(4) Glass interfaces with my home wifi router in a strange way & I’m not always sure when it’s sending data or what data it’s sending.


So sometimes Glass seems to be sending data when I’m not doing anything with it.  Sure, lots of devices do that–yet, I can’t help wondering what it’s sending.  Privacy concerns with Glass already abound and maybe that’s why I wonder what this thing is up to.


Also, my poor Airport WIFI router seems to have issues with Glass.  Don’t know why, but when Glass is on it boots everything else off the network and makes them unable to access the Internet.  Could be that I just have firmware updates, etc., to do as new devices like Glass come onto the market.


(5) Glass requires touch to operate.


Yes, much of Glass can be controlled with head movements and voice.  However, touch is often required to start or accept actions.  In light of #6 beneath, and the fact that we need a hands-free device for our business model, we’d really like to see less touch.  Maybe just us on this one.


(6) Glass voice recognition is excellent.


One really impressive feature of Glass is the voice to text fidelity.  Accuracy and speed are excellent here.


(7) Glass came with frames.


This version of Glass came with frames included.  They’re not bad, and accept a standard lens from stores like LensCrafters.  You can see the set I received in the photo above.  Overall, this is a good feature.



In the end, our team is very impressed by the intelligent manner with which Google is rolling out Glass.  The focus on an MVP-type product, and positioning with early adopters, is a nice study in how to bring something truly different to market.  The product itself is exactly what it says it is:  a developer stage device that is coming along nicely and iterating as it goes.


Some qualities of Glass need improvement (think battery life here) and others, like video calls, need to be brought back–Google hear our plea!


Glass is an interesting device with many potential uses, and we are excited to be part of its process as it goes on to fulfill its promise.