Trial participant (and new mother) Laura Loricco (right) gets some Glass instruction. Image: Small World Social
Google Glass, whether warranted or not, endures its fair share of criticism, largely because a lot of initial use cases have been, well, kinda creepy. So it's great to instead see Glass being used for uniquely positive ends, as it it with the Australian Breastfeeding Association's Breastfeeding Support Project.
In a bid to provide a solution for new mothers in search of breastfeeding guidance, ABA and Melbourne-based technology company Small World combined to create an "online portal that is voice activated and hands-free," which mothers can navigate by using Glass. The trial included five mothers and 15 breastfeeding counselors, who also tested out delivering on-demand counseling services via instant message, video chat, and regular old phone calls. Because Glass is so immersive and intuitive to use, it received great marks.
"The trial allowed mothers to see visual step-by-step instructions as they began learning to breastfeed," wrote the ABA in a blog post announcing the trial's completion, which ended April 13th. "Mothers could also securely video call an ABA volunteer counselor who could view the mother's issue through Glass's camera (whether it be latching on, mastitis etc) and give the mother immediate suggestions."
ABA reported that mothers initially had trouble with Google Hangouts, but after releasing simple step-by-step instructional videos, the trial's participants found more success in implementing the headset. One participant, Sarah-Jane Baily, successfully breastfed her son Patrick—who suffers from micrognathia (under-sized jaw)—with the help of Glass and the advice of an ABA counselor.
This is the future. Image: Small World Social
There have been some hiccups along the way. ABA reported that Glass's current battery life—in its current developer form—is far too limited for live video calls, even if they typically don't last longer than 20 minutes. Small World and ABA's solution to this problem was to connect Glass to a secondary battery source. Aside from that, participants struggled with wireless connectivity difficulties, though they were able to work through this problem individually.
The Breastfeeding Support Project website states that part of the impetus behind the project is the effect of globalization on the family unit. "Today, families are spread all around the globe, and quite often the familial support women have relied on for generations simply isn’t available," the group notes. "Hospital stays are focused on the baby’s delivery and are considerably shorter, with new mothers usually home within two days of giving birth."
Glass, in conjunction with the counseling, gives mothers something close to the personalized instruction they would traditionally have expected from family members. And while it's a bit unexpected to see Glass appearing in such intimate moments as a new mother breastfeeding her child, the ABA is enthusiastic about the trial's results and Glass's potential in breast feeding instruction going forward.