Google, virtual reality, AI and healthcare: A perfect equation

“I’m personally excited about healthcare because I’m obsessed with trying to do something for the greater good in this world, and it starts with the human species.”

With these words, Olivier Rabenschlag, head of creative at Google, discussed why healthcare is different from the other industries he’s worked in throughout his career. Although he’s spent time in the world of advertising, he explained why he’s more passionate about healthcare.

“[Healthcare] is more challenging. It is also more rewarding if you end up coming up with a solution,” he said during a HITLAB live streamed discussion at Columbia University Medical Center on April 13.

In his time at Google, Rabenschlag has already started to see some of these solutions happen. For example, Google Cardboard — a virtual reality headset that costs about $15 — made headlines last year when it saved a baby’s life in Florida, according to CNN. As Rabenschlag pointed out, the child was born without a lung and with a piece of her heart missing. Though the surgeons at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital wanted to view the baby’s heart and lungs in three dimensions, their 3-D printer was broken. Instead, they resorted to Google Cardboard. “Through an existing app they found, they managed to convert all those images into VR-compatible imagery that allowed the team of surgeons to look at the child’s heart through Google Carboard,” Rabenschlag said. The surgeons then performed a successful surgery and the baby survived.

And Google isn’t only making its mark in the virtual reality space. Rabenschlag also touched on how the tech giant is placing a bet on “machine learning and AI, making things a lot smarter and seamless and moving more into predictive models than reactive models.”

These technologies, combined with what Verily is doing, could have the potential to impact health around the globe, Rabenschlag said.

By Erin Dietsche | MedCity News

Photo Credit: Andrzej Wojcicki, Getty Images

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