Applications and User Perceptions of Smart Glasses in Emergency Medical Services: Semistructured Interview Study

Zhan Zhang, Karen Joy, Richard Harris, Mustafa Ozkaynak, Kathleen Adelgais, Kevin Munjal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Smart glasses have been gaining momentum as a novel technology because of their advantages in enabling hands-free operation and see-what-I-see remote consultation. Researchers have primarily evaluated this technology in hospital settings; however, limited research has investigated its application in prehospital operations. Objective: The aim of this study is to understand the potential of smart glasses to support the work practices of prehospital providers, such as emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. Methods: We conducted semistructured interviews with 13 EMS providers recruited from 4 hospital-based EMS agencies in an urban area in the east coast region of the United States. The interview questions covered EMS workflow, challenges encountered, technology needs, and users' perceptions of smart glasses in supporting daily EMS work. During the interviews, we demonstrated a system prototype to elicit more accurate and comprehensive insights regarding smart glasses. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using the open coding technique. Results: We identified four potential application areas for smart glasses in EMS: enhancing teleconsultation between distributed prehospital and hospital providers, semiautomating patient data collection and documentation in real time, supporting decision-making and situation awareness, and augmenting quality assurance and training. Compared with the built-in touch pad, voice commands and hand gestures were indicated as the most preferred and suitable interaction mechanisms. EMS providers expressed positive attitudes toward using smart glasses during prehospital encounters. However, several potential barriers and user concerns need to be considered and addressed before implementing and deploying smart glasses in EMS practice. They are related to hardware limitations, human factors, reliability, workflow, interoperability, and privacy. Conclusions: Smart glasses can be a suitable technological means for supporting EMS work. We conclude this paper by discussing several design considerations for realizing the full potential of this hands-free technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30883
JournalJMIR Human Factors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Emergency medical services
  • Hands-free technologies
  • Mobile phone
  • Smart glasses
  • User studies


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