Through Glass: The distraction factor

Google Glass Explorer number 1090
Google Glass Explorer number 1090 (Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

Through Glass:

The distraction factor

The latest in our occasional series about living with Google Glass comes from our own Jerry Hildenbrand, a neckbearded riddle wrapped in a West Virginia enigma.

Jerry Hildenbrand

Google Glass is no more distracting than your phone, nor is it any less

We all know that if you get caught speeding upwards of 20 mph over the speed limit and you're wearing Google Glass, you're going to get at least one ticket. And you should. Piloting 8,000 pounds of metal traveling at high speeds is a responsibility you shouldn't take lightly.

While very few are complaining about the speeding ticket that was issued in the example above, a good many people are outraged that the driver wearing Google Glass was mentioned on the citation.

I'm here to say the unpopular opinion — it should be mentioned.

The best thing about Google Glass is also the worst thing for the safety of you and the folks around you while you're operating a moving vehicle.

The content you have decided to send to your Glass is front and center, right where you can see it, and ready for you to take action on. Sure, much fuss is made about wearing Glass to the bar or any place where people fear they will be recorded, but that's a minor social issue that etiquette and society will figure out if and when wearable computing goes mainstream. Trying to drive down the road while fiddling with your email, or sending out a Tweet is another story though. Just like doing it from your phone, it's an easy way to get distracted, cause an accident, and hurt someone else.

That's not saying everything about Google Glass and driving is bad. Having Google Navigation floating above your right eye and whispering right into your ear is an excellent experience, and likely safer than trying to use a docked smartphone or the GPS in your car's dash. Having fooled with it a few times, the HUD method is the way to go here. But of course Glass can do so much more. You will be tempted to do things like text your friends, or grab a video while driving. And just like doing it with your phone, doing it through Glass is no bueno.

Once you start fiddling with things — say not-so-important things like an unanswered email from two days ago — your eyes leave the road. That slight glance up and to the right (which is how you look at Glass' screen) just might be enough to miss that bicycle making a turn. Or a family of deer who decided now was a good time to cross the road. Or a kid following their ball into the street. It's no different than looking down at your phone. And that's just the simple things. Heaven forbid you hit a snag where your phone stops providing data and you need to reset the network connection, or you think you need to read an email right away. I want to think that in those cases, a person would pull over to attend to things every time. But I know not everyone will.

I don't want Google Glass (or any wearable computing glasses that may come to fruition) to be banned behind the wheel. Navigation is clearly superior, and answering a phone call is safe and easy for the most part — certainly as safe and easy as hitting the button on your steering wheel or Bluetooth receiver to pick up the phone. I don't have the answer, but I hope someone from Google is working on this one, because turning out the product in it's current form is a sure-fire way to get it banned for use while driving.

Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry Hildenbrand

"Fascinated by things that go beep."

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Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.