Just in case you’re already advanced smartphone is not sophisticated enough for you, Google has developed Google Glass, a new pair of reality-altering glasses. The new technology allows wearers to send text messages and emails, search the Internet, and take photos and videos all while barely moving a muscle. One major function of the headset is the ability to supply wearers with driving directions and voice-operated turn-by-turn navigation.
As with any new technology, Google Glass has been subject to a wide variety of reactions, ranging from pure excitement to notable anxiety. Among the many concerns expressed by the public, including the price and necessity of the device, is the overall safety of Google Glass, especially when the user is operating a motor vehicle.
With the near universal availability of GPS, wearable navigation appears to be entirely unnecessary. Seeing how most other forms of distracted driving are strictly forbidden across the board, why should we make an exception for a device that essentially forces the user to look at the e-mail or text they just received while in an already risky situation?
Rep. Gary Howell of West Virginia has suggested making laws that prohibit texting while driving in order to include “wearable computers with head mounted display.”
In response to the West Virginia representative’s pre-emptive action, a representative for Google has asserted that “there is tremendous potential to improve safety on our roads and reduce accidents.”
Frankly, I must applaud the anticipatory measures taken by Rep. Howell.
Driving is dangerous and as someone who is easily distracted, I can see how Google Glass may present a serious threat to drivers everywhere. In fact, the average GPS that is built into many vehicles today has the potential to cause accidents on its own, even though drivers are not checking the screen every second of their trip (in theory). How many times has your GPS told you to turn left where no left turn exists or that your destination is right in front of your eyes when in reality it’s three miles down the road?
With the introduction of this amendment, Rep. Howell is setting an example that every state’s legislature should be quick to follow. There is no reason that driving with Google Glass should be seen as an acceptable practice and the device should be subject to the same restrictions as other devices of the same nature.
Not only is the concept of Google Glass anxiety-inspiring with regards to driving, I fail to see the necessity for such a device’s use in any setting. I fear that the inclusion of Google Glass in the consumer’s daily life will prove detrimental to the wearer’s relationship with the real world.
The effects of smartphone use on face-to-face conversation are evident and somewhat terrifying. Logically, a headset that allows users to connect to the Internet with even more ease than before will continue to produce even more adverse effects on the consumer’s connection to reality and understanding of person-to-person contact.
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