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MedRef app brings face recognition to Google Glass

Developers are eagerly embracing Google's high-tech glasses, and the latest is MedRef, an app designed for hospital employees to easily access patient records, with the help of facial recognition software.

Computer programmer Lance Nanek and his team wrote the MedRef for Glass app for a medical hackathon. "Some people I talked to said hospitals are full of very busy people, often with their hands full, working with a lot of information," Nanek wrote in a blog post. "So Google Glass making it wearable is especially looked forward to there!"

So far, many of the most talked-about Glass apps have focused on social networking or easy photo taking but there is increasing discussion over how the futuristic product may be used in the workplace.

The app takes advantage of Google Glass timeline cards, which are managed via voice commands and, in the case of MedRef, provide options to "Set Patient" or "Add Note." Medical workers can keep a log of their patients, complete with text and photo notes for future reference. Say the patient is allergic to peanuts and has bed sores that require him to be turned every hour. Just tell Glass, and those details will be stored for later reference.

When needed, the wearer can call up those notes via a few taps of the device, or search by facial recognition. Use the headwear to snap a photo of the patient, then let the app retrieve information about the saved contact it thinks best fits the facial-recognition profile.

"It's really cool seeing Google Glass start to be able to identify people," Nanek said in a video demo (above). "Hopefully in the future, we'll have super advanced versions of this hardware that'll be doing this constantly."

The lucky few who snagged an Explorer edition of Google Glass can install the open source MedRef application via GitHub; the facial recognition function uses the Betaface Web service.

Nanek isn't the first to turn heads with his Google Glass application. Recently, rumors of an official Twitter application began flying when a tweet sent from Twitter for Glass appeared (and was quickly deleted). Meanwhile, hours of cat memes are now available for your entertainment on Glass, thanks to a Reddit application that provides a direct link to the top 25 stories on your Reddit homepage.