Google Glass: safety, health & security

One question you may ever asked yourself, can wearing connected eyewear put you at risk?

It’s one of the most anticipated new technologies in 2014. Early adopters, known as ‘Glass Explorers’, already praise the internet-connected eyewear’s potential for surgery, fi refi ghting, identifying criminals and much more.
However, there are some concerns that wearing Google Glass may compromise the safety and health of its users. A Californian woman’s recent traffic citation for wearing Google Glass while driving reignited debate about the safety of using the device behind the wheel.

Aside from driving, Google Glass explorers also asked, as well as app developers and others – all in the US due to the restrictions of Google’s Explorer programme – to weigh in on the safety and potential health risks of using Google Glass. (Google didn’t respond to requests for comments for this article.)

Is it safe while walking or cycling?

Glass Almanac blog editor and Glass Explorer Matt McGee has walked and cycled while using Google Glass. In general, he says he believes it’s safe. “Glass’ navigation helped me get to some new places while I was walking through Philadelphia and San Francisco this summer. It was great to use the navigation and get where I wanted without having
to look down and risk colliding into people or who knows what,” McGee says.

Cycling is “a little trickier”, McGee says; “you’re moving 10- to 15mph and potentially near tra c. So I occasionally have to stop the bike if I need to do something with Glass. But it’s really fun.” On the other hand, Rich Chang, CEO and partner of NewFoundry, a Google Glass app developer, says that walking or cycling while using Google Glass is potentially unsafe. “Many people are already not paying attention while crossing the street because of smartphones and MP3 players.

Meanwhile, David Berkowitz, CMO for digital- and technology agency MRY and a frequent speaker on wearable technology at events such as South by Southwest (SXSW), describes crossing a New York City street while wearing Google Glass as “one of the scariest, riskiest things I’ve ever done”.

He adds: “People have to learn to be careful, just like they need to learn to put their mobile phones away while crossing the street. That email or Spotify track can wait.”

Webster says he appreciates that Google Glass serves up information about restaurants, shops and historical buildings and sites as he approaches them on foot. Like McGee, Webster often uses Google Glass to capture photos and videos of things he sees along his route.

What are the health risks of Google Glass?

Wearing heads-up displays such as Google Glass can contribute to eye fatigue and may cause visual confusion, according to ophthalmologist and entrepreneur Sina Fateh, who has filled more than 30 patents related to heads-up displays. “The problem is you have two eyes: the brain hates seeing one image in front of one eye and nothing in front of the other,” Fateh told Forbes in March 2013.

Heads-up displays can cause such problems as binocular rivalry, visual interference and a latent misalignment of the eyes that results when both eyes don’t look at the same object.

A professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, Eli Peli, has been researching the impact of head-mounted displays for 20 years and has been consulting with the Glass team for two years.

Peli told Forbes that Google Glass has “a more advanced design for safety and comfort than any of the previous head-mounted displays I’ve evaluated”.

Because Glass has a minimal impact on the wearer’s field of vision, there’s little chance of putting the user at risk of bumping into objects, Peli said.

Does Google Glass cause brain cancer?

Some have raised more serious concerns: frequent, long-term Google Glass use might cause an increased risk of brain cancer. The jury’s definitely still out on this one, however. The Federal Communications Commission sets the maximum
Specifi c Absorption Rate (SAR) for mobile phones at 1.6W per kilogram. In documents fi led with the FCC in February 2013, Google said its headset had a 1.34W per kilogram SAR, within the FCC maximum.

On the other hand, it’s worth noting that Google Glass is designed to be worn on the head, as opposed to smartphones, which are used only near the head during a phone call.

How it Feels (through Google Glass)

Published by

Febryan Paudi

Febryan Paudi is Apple enthusiast. Falling in love with Apple-tech since 2008, loves Blogging since high-school. Google+

Leave a Reply