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How safe is Google Glass for driving?

James A. Martin | Nov. 21, 2013
A California woman's citation for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel raises safety questions about wearing the Internet-connected headset while driving.

By comparison, Google Glass GPS "takes about half a second," Webster says. "No head movement. No refocusing. No need to reinterpret the road scape because it doesn't change enough in a half second." As a result, he says that, compared to a dashboard GPS, "Glass is faster, less effortful and less disorienting" for drivers. That means it's safer.

Webster describes Google Glass GPS as "enormously useful [when] going into an unfamiliar, complex cloverleaf at night or in a busy urban traffic environment, when there may be literally a dozen different route options in the next few seconds."

Aside from navigation, Webster sometimes uses the Google Glass camera to snap a photo while driving. "It might be useful in capturing a license plate number," he adds, though he hasn't tried that yet. He occasionally answers email, hands-free.

Over time, Google Glass "will actually augment driver judgment by performing some of the valuable functions of a second pair of passenger eyes," Webster says. "If you put together calculation of gaze direction (where you're looking) and object recognition (what you're looking at) I expect to see some of the same collision avoidance decision-aiding that's already beginning to appear in modern vehicles."

If You Ban Google Glass While Driving, Then Why Not GPS Devices?
Though Google didn't respond to requests for comments for this article, the company address the question "Can I use Glass while driving or bicycling?" on its Glass FAQ page:

It depends on where you are and how you use it. As you probably know, most states have passed laws limiting the use of mobile devices while driving any motor vehicle, and most states post those rules on their department of motor vehicles websites. Read up and follow the law! Above all, even when you're following the law, don't hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road. The same goes for bicycling: whether or not any laws limit your use of Glass, always be careful.

Some early Google Glass users say that efforts to ban driving while wearing Google's headset typically come from those who haven't tried it themselves. There's also the argument that, if you ban Google Glass behind the wheel, why wouldn't you also forbid cell phones, portable GPS devices and other potential distractions?

Both sides tend to agree on one thing, though: Google, and other high-tech headset makers, have an obligation to clearly, loudly and frequently warn users of potential safety risks. Some point to the cell phone industry's "It Can Wait" public-service campaign as one example of how headset makers can warn its customers.

 

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