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The Latest Distraction While Driving: Google Glass, Yes it is Still Around and On the Factory Floor of Many Businesses

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Updated November 15th, 2020

Recent breakthroughs in technology may have been great for consumers, but they’ve been decidedly less beneficial for anyone on the roads. Whether it is texting while driving, jabbering on the phone, or the unbelievable new practice of taking “selfies” behind the wheel, it seems like people are paying attention to everything but the road.

Employee using Google Glass while at a Schlumberger Oilfield Services Company.

Employee using Google Glass while at a Schlumberger Oilfield Services Company. It is more convenient for them to use it rather than tablets. Image courtesy of Wearable Intelligence.

What is Google Glass?

It would seem, then, that the absolute last thing we need is another gadget to distract us while we’re behind the wheel. Despite this, here comes Google Glass, the latest way to have fun while endangering the lives of others.

Update: Google Glass is not dead. You can read the story at NPR as of March 18th, 2017. Manufacturing companies are using it.

“It took a little getting used to. But once I got used to it, it’s just been awesome,” Erickson says.

From Heather Erickson, AGCO, Jackson, Minnesota via NPR.org

In case you’re not familiar, Google Glass is a kind of wearable computer. Looking like a cyborg version of regular glasses, Google Glass can do everything from taking pictures and videos to bringing the internet before your very eyes. Which by the way is very cool!

Some of Brands & Businesses Using Google Glass

SalesforceDiscover CardACME Hotel
Accenture / KPNIntuitSherwin Williams
Rhode Island HospitalMercedes-BenzKenneth Cole
Wound Care AdvantageFordJeep
FidelityVirgin AtlanticTrulia
Wells FargoStanford Court HotelNBC

In fact, this is one of the primary arguments in favor of allowing Google Glass while driving.

Specifications of Google Glass

CameraPhotos - 5 MP
Videos - 720p
AudioBone Conduction Transducer
ConnectivityWifi - 802.11b/g
Storage12 GB of usable memory, synced with Google cloud storage. 16 GB Flash total
BatteryOne full day of typical use. Some features, like Hangouts and video recording, are more battery intensive.
FitAdjustable nosepads and durable frame fits any face.
Extra nosepads in two sizes.
DisplayHigh resolution display is the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away.
CompatibilityAny Bluetooth-capable phone.
ChargerIncluded Micro USB cable and charger.

What Google Glass Can Do

You can use the glasses to upload navigation and real-time traffic and road conditions, potentially leading to safer driving (especially if it means people are using the glasses instead of staring down at their phones).

Close up image of Google Glass

Close up image of Google Glass. Image Courtesy of Dan Leveille.

However, even if you’re looking at traffic conditions or something similarly relevant, that means your attention is focused somewhere other than the road in front of you. There has yet to be an app invented that can tell you when the car in front of you is about to hit the brakes, or if a pedestrian is set to step into the street unexpectedly.

Table of 15 Specific & Cool Features of Google Glass

 Feature of Google GlasssWhat it Does
1RemindersGlass can pop up a reminder on your screen to, well, remind you of an upcoming appointment or other meeting that you have planned
2WeatherLike one of the cards that pops up in Android, Google Glass hopes to be able to deliver to you the current weather.
3MenuGlass shows off what options users have available, ranging from taking pictures, engaging in a Google Hangout, recording a video, or sharing with others.
4Dictate TextsThere's no reason why Glass can't be used to dictate texts or short messages to others, using the built-in microphone, Google's cloud-based speech recognition, and a wireless connection.
5Travel AlertsI've never seen an alert when a public transportation link has been severed or is inoperable, but I assume Google has the capability to do so.
6MapsRender Google Maps to see
7Turn - by - Turn DirectionsFeature of Google Navigation is turn-by-turn directions
8Interior MapsGoogle users can navigate indoors, as long as the augmented GPS (GPS+Wi-Fi, to determine location) knows where you are.
9Check InGoogle users can check in at locations
10PhotosUsers can take photos
11Hangout (With Screen Sharing)You can share what you are seeing with Google Glass
12Take a Photo With a WinkWink & take a photo
13Play GamesFeature gaming platform
14Google CompassHave a compass when you need it
15Livestream From Your FaceLive-streaming so simple

Another justification advocates make on behalf of Google Glass is that the camera feature will help document crashes and bad behavior, making it easier for authorities to re-construct accidents.

States Have Distracted Driving Laws for Google Glass

While this would undoubtedly prove helpful, it’s hard to believe that the majority of wearers will use the glasses for that purpose (as opposed to, say, trying to make a viral video behind the wheel).

Many lawmakers are already trying to take action against the new technology. Legislation has been proposed in 8 states so far banning the use of Google Glass while driving.

List of States with Proposed Ban

CaliforniaNew York
IllinoisWest Virginia
New JerseyWyoming

Of course, the tech behemoth isn’t going to go down without a fight – it’s responded by sending a small army of lobbyists to descend on state buildings across the nation in order to fight for the technology’s acceptance.

Drivers & the Wearable Technology

Even if the technology isn’t banned immediately, it’s hard to imagine it lasting long once it starts getting linked to crashes – even if it’s not responsible. If there’s a fender bender and one of the drivers is wearing the glasses, it’s doubtful that anyone would focus on anything else – discussions about failure to yield or following too closely would fall by the wayside.

Showing battlefield army / air force personnel using google glass to make ready for battle.

Military personnel have also been trying out Glass. The US Air Force is testing the headgear for potential battlefield use headgear for a variety of uses. Image Credit Techworld.

People will simply assume that the driver was paying more attention to the glasses than the road, and it’s likely that public opinion would eventually swing towards a ban while behind the wheel.

Of course, as advocates point out, this is all merely theoretical at this point, as the glasses haven’t even been officially launched yet. We have no idea what the final version will actually look like, nor do we know if Google is already anticipating – and countering – these objectives.

It’s entirely possible that they’re making the final version in such a way that they can only assist drivers, not hinder them. Perhaps there’s a sensor that will disable the glasses when the wearer is driving, or at least disable all non-essential applications.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

Still, even if Google has some tricks up its sleeves, it can’t get around the fact that it’s putting yet another piece of technology out there that will draw drivers’ attention away from the task at hand.

As anyone who has driven recently (and has seen most drivers focused more on their laps than their windshield) can tell you, Google Glass may be the absolute last thing we need.

Shaun Fyffe

Shaun Fyffe

Shaun is an auto insurance expert with ten years of experience as a researcher and content writer. He's fluent in Spanish, teaching it plus AP computer science at Nyack Public Schools in New York. He has a B.A. in Spanish, B.S. in computer science from Florida State University, and an M.A. from SUNY New Paltz. He also is the lead editor for AutoInsureSavings.org.

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