Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is it Safe to Drive with Google Glass?

Wearable technology Q&A on Google Glass at Qualcomm.
Driving while talking on the phone is distracting and texting is worse. So, what about driving while wearing Google Glass?

Google Glass is a heads-up display (HUD) for consumers. HUDs were invented for military fighter planes since flying requires intense focus and concentration in a distracting environment. Surprisingly, a large amount of today's computer science design best practices related to size, distance, and grouping U/I controls originated in the airplane cockpit.

Some user interface decisions seem obvious such as not putting the ejection button right next to the landing lights switch or not placing small, related, buttons far apart on a web page. But how do you figure out what's best? Paul Fitts, an Air Force Officer, modeled the theory behind human movement in a mathematical fashion. Based on his work, human machine interfaces have been refined leading to the development of technologies like the HUD. Technology should enhance an experience, not interfere with it.

Is it safe?

The plain English description of the HUD (heads-up) tells all. It's much safer to drive when Google Glass displays your speed and GPS directions than it is to look away from the road to find this information on your dashboard. Of course, it can be equally distracting if you're viewing videos and surfing the Web with Google Glass while driving. This issue has become relevant when a woman was ticketed, in San Diego, for merely wearing Google Glass this past October. Last week, the case was dismissed because the judge decided there wasn't enough evidence to prove the device was on. That still leaves the legal issue of driving while Google Glass is turned on to be answered.

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