Rethinking Healthcare

Glasses let you read through skin, watch veins glow

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By enhancing the color of deoxygenated blood under the skin, a pair of O2Amps lets you read other people's emotions and moods. Doctors could read patient health, find veins, and detect trauma.

Can a pair of glasses really help you read other people’s health?

A company called 2AI Labs has developed a pair of glasses – the O2Amps – that can amplify your view of the emotions and health visible in the color and pallor of other people’s skin.

While at Caltech, Mark Changizi, the director of human cognition at 2AI, found that color vision evolved to sense fluctuations in oxygen levels in the hemoglobin just under the skin. “The connection between our color vision and blood physiology,” he says, makes it “possible to build filters that further amplify our perception of the blood and the signals it provides.”

For example, someone might turn bright red from embarrassment. And there are all sorts of more subtle signals that we may only be semi-conscious of, Technology Review explains, but that nonetheless were beneficial to the species that passed color vision on to us.

As the name implies, these glasses amplify oxygen signals, making them visible to others. By enhancing the exact color of deoxygenated blood under the skin, you can easily spot veins and view hidden vasculature. In fact, the veins appear to glow.

So, there might be uses for security, poker, sports, and dating, but here are some medical applications, Changizi writes:

  • A vein-finder (oxygenation-isolator) amplifies perception of oxygenation modulations under the skin.
  • A trauma-detector (hemoglobin-concentration-isolator) amplifies perception of hemoglobin concentrations under the skin.
  • A ‘general clinical enhancer’ (oxygenation-amplifier) amplifies perception of oxygenation.

The company received its first shipment from manufacturers, and they’re moving now to get them in hospitals and among clinical staff for testing.

[Via Changizi Blog, Technology Review]

Image: Changizi Blog

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Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure