Feeling anticipation about Google Glass as it becomes closer to being available for use by the public? That’s great, but as exciting as the eyewear is,it also could have several unexpected health and safety risks which individuals should certainly know about before purchasing their own pair.
To start things off on a high note, the first thing users should be aware of is the good news. Google will make prescription versions of their Glass product available for people who are near-sighted to wear. While this is absolutely welcome so that near-sighted people won’t have to choose between receiving verbal instructions and being able to see if they’re driving on the sidewalk or the road, it does play right into one of the widely known concerns about the product. That is of course, that Google Glass has already been banned in a number of locations such as movie theaters, some bars, banks and even cars. One San Diego woman was already ticketed for using Google Glass while driving; however, she was cleared of all charges because the officer could not prove the device was operational at the time. What if someone who is near-sighted uses Google Glass and forgets to bring their actual prescription lenses with them when they go out to a location where Glass has been banned? Do they have to remove the device and then walk around, unable to see where they are going and risk injuring themselves?
Near-sighted issues aren’t the only unexpected health risks that could arise from Google Glass. Speaking of driving, numerous states including Illinois and New Jersey have already deemed it illegal to drive with Google Glass; however California says it’s okay as long as it isn’t on. The concern is that although it can be used for GPS purposes, it could also be used to watch video, check emails, surf the internet or talk on the phone. All of these are distractions and pose health risks to the driver as well as nearby people and vehicles. The chart below this paragraph from 2012 shows a list of states where mounted GPS devices are legal (green), okay with restrictions (yellow), or just illegal (red). It is reasonable to assume that similar state restrictions could follow for Google Glass.
In the world of office ergonomics, it is recommended for a computer monitor to remain no closer than arm’s length from the eyes (roughly 45 to 60 cm) and it is additionally recommended to occasionally glance away from the screen and focus on distant objects in order to exercise the eye muscles. On the other hand, Google Glass remains directly in front of the eyes at very close range.
Thankfully, Google is well aware of the potential health risks that could occur and is doing their best to mitigate them. They have made it clear that ophthalmologists have been consulted throughout development and they are keeping a watchful eye for health risks, although their internal tests have shown “no cause for concern.” They have also made it clear that Glass is not for everyone and customers who are experiencing health issues will be given a full refund. While it’s difficult to plan for the unexpected, Google appears to have taken steps to ensure that Glass provides the best experience for anyone who chooses to use them. Until then, is it distracting to drive while using Google Glass for directions? Check out the video below and decide.
By Jonathan Holowka