Google Glass Deemed as Dangerous as Texting and Driving

Google Glass while driving

Until recently, combining an auto career with a job at Google meant you either drove a Google Street View car, or were the person who graduated from auto mechanic courses and now services their fleet of Street View cars. Now, though, it looks like the Google Glass division might need the assistance of people with auto technician training who have insight into what is – and isn’t – safe driving.

According to a recent study by the University of Central Florida (UCF), driving while wearing Google Glass is as dangerous as texting and driving. Another study done by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) came to the same conclusion for different reasons, and also determined it’s not safe to wear high-tech spectacles while walking, jogging or cycling through urban areas.

Distraction and Blind Spots

The UCF researchers determined that the sensory input provided by Google Glass could easily distract drivers from the extremely important primary task of keeping their focus on the road. Anyone who drives could imagine the potentially disastrous consequences if say, a text message or Tweet popped up at a really crucial decision-making time.

This woman was issued a ticket for wearing a Glass while driving, but it was quickly thrown out in court:

The UCSF team, on the other hand, went beyond simple distraction and looked at the problematic construction of the Glass itself. They observed that the placement of the display and camera in the upper right corner caused a crucial blind spot for the wearer. Dr. Edward Koo, clinical ophthalmologist at UCSF explained to the media:

“The Google Glass hardware produces a significant blocking effect of the right peripheral vision. The defect would not be compensated by the left eye and thus may negatively impact daily activities such as driving, cycling and running.”

This effect is potentially worse when driving at night or when visibility is bad overall. Also, for drivers in Great Britain who drive on the right side of the road, the blind spot is exactly where they should be seeing oncoming traffic and therefore potentially even more dangerous.

What Will Google Do?

Google Glass has already been dealing with blowback, mainly over privacy concerns related to the mini camera. It is banned in some places for that reason, including movie chains in the US. Though there has not been an official ban on using the device or similar devices while driving yet, the UK Department of Transport has issued a warning.

Google had been developing a way to properly integrate Glass into cars in partnership with Mercedez-Benz. No word on if and how that project will continue in the wake of these studies. We do know that Google has decided to work with Dr. Koo and his team to try and make Glass safer.

Do you think it’s a good idea to use wearable tech like Google Glass while driving?

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