It just so happens Google Glass is a dangerous distraction for motorists, and not just the drivers yelling out of their windows at "Glass Explorers."
While the conclusion may be agonizingly obvious to many, a new University of Central Florida study has placed science behind assertions stating using Google Glass while driving is dangerous. Findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Human Factors.
The study, Google Glass: A Driver Distraction Cause or Cure, concludes that operating a motor vehicle while using Google Glass is just as much of a distraction as texting, though the hands-free nature of Google's augmented reality glasses allowed drivers to recover more quickly and efficiently than individuals wielding smartphones on the roadways.
Both are still distractions that must be avoided when driving, according to Ben Sawyer, a UCF researcher. A quicker recovery by Glass users still means a recovery action was needed.
"Texting with either a smartphone or Glass will cause distraction and should be avoided while driving," says Sawyer. "Glass did help drivers in our study recover more quickly than those texting on a smartphone. We hope that Glass points the way to technology that can help deliver information with minimal risk."
The UCF researchers conducted an experiment that collected data from 40 individuals in their twenties. The participants were tasked with using Glass or a smartphone while operating a car simulator.
Despite Glass Explorers' ability to recover from "break events," Google Glass didn't help to improve their reactions to the actual events, says Sawyer. Messaging while driving was especially worrisome, according to Sawyer.
"More importantly, for every measure we recorded, messaging with either device negatively impacted driving performance," says Sawyer. "Compared to those just driving, multitaskers reacted more slowly, preserved less headway during the brake event, and subsequently adopted greater following distances.
UCF's study may have confirmed the dangers of using Glass and other AR equipment while driving, but Sawyer was at least encouraged by the benefits Google Glass offered.
"As distractive influences threaten to become more common and numerous in drivers' lives, we find the limited benefits provided by Glass a hopeful sign of technological solutions to come," Sawyer says. The U.S. Air Force's Research Laboratory helped UCF with the study, because it wants to learn more effective ways to communicate with soldiers, according to Sawyer.
The Air Force's interest is not to necessarily deploy Google Glass to soldiers, says Sawyer.
"They're interested in getting our men and women the information they need, without putting them in danger -- and driving is not the most dangerous thing they do."
In other tech news, controversial slugger Barry Bonds has admitted to glassing. "I'm glassing," says Bonds on Twitter.