Over the past year, there has been a lot of hype surrounding Google’s up and coming “Google Glass” product. Currently not slated to hit the consumer market until 2014, for the last several months, approximately 10,000 “explorers” have been beta testing the gadget. As these thousands of people are using Glass daily, this has led to concerns over privacy and safety.
In California during October 2013, one of the “explorers” was driving while wearing the glasses and was pulled over by law enforcement on suspicion of driving 80 mph in a 65-mph zone. She received a citation for speeding, along with one for driving while a video or TV screen was on. The woman is currently pleading not guilty, but the citation has pushed safety issues associated with Glass back in to the spotlight.
What is Google Glass?
Google Glass is a wearable device, completely hands-free, that allows people to conduct tasks they would do with a smartphone, computer or other gadget and beyond. For instance, it allows users to conduct Internet searches, share their “view”, find directions or take pictures and video to name a few. Many tasks are voice activated.
Google Glass and driving dangers
Whether or not Google Glass is dangerous is currently a hot button issue. Many consumers are excited over the product’s reach into the market and emphasize the “hands free” aspect of wearing it, removing attention away from distracted driving with smartphones. But others are extremely concerned over the consequences of introducing such a technology. Opponents to driving while wearing Glass point out distracted driving and obstruction of vision as primary concerns.
For instance, iDigital Times points out the American Automobile Association (AAA) noted taking even just one photo can lead a person’s eyes off the road for two seconds and nearly two basketball courts. This preoccupation and attention drawn could have an impact on depth perception, leading to a perilous situation. Sean Hollister, at the Verge, used the word “dangerous” as he noted obstructed vision and distraction when he tried out the device while driving, reported SlashDot.
Another potential problem is the brain being engaged elsewhere. So even if eyes are directly fixed on the road, the mind could potentially “drift” and not really accurately see what’s happening on the roadway.
Laws regarding Google Glass
To date, lawmakers in at least three states are seeking to ban the use of Google Glass while driving. In Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia, laws have already been introduced or older laws sought to be revised to include current technologies. At this time, it is not clear if others will follow suit.
Google Support does emphasize on its website Glass wearers should obey local laws and pay careful attention to the road while biking or driving.
Earlier this year, the New York Times discussed several of the issues associated with Glass. While Google is trying to address both a hands-free and eyes-free solution, there are a lot of kinks to work out before it truly does what has been envisioned. As NYT noted, Glass can allow people to do amazing things, but it cannot “abolish the limits” on a person’s ability to manage diverted attention.