Signaling With Google Glass

April 24th, 2013

A review of Google Glass makes an interesting point that I don’t think is right. Taking your phone out of your pocket to check your email shows everyone that you are not interested in them, but surreptitiously checking your email on Google Glass does not:

For example, how many times a day do you pick up your phone to check the time or to see if you have any missed calls or text messages? I couldn’t count the times that I’ve wasted that arm motion, in the sense that it has taken attention away from things around me. Every single time you take your phone out, you’re telling the people that are around you that you have no interest in interacting with them for at least 30 seconds while you dive into your phone. Now, am I saying that having a screen above your eye is any less socially awkward? No. But it lets you access the same information quicker without having to stop what you’re doing.

Isn’t the very act of wearing Glass a signaling to the world that whatever is on your lens is more important than what is around you? Now, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, and with time, will become more socially acceptable.

I am still mixed on the idea of Glass. Though, this one attribute, of quietly checking my stuff without anyone knowing is somewhat appealing–and troubling.

Is it possible to consider two sources of information at once–the people in front of you, and the data on your screen? The Times has an interesting piece about high-tech ski goggles used on the slope that can provide a heads-up display:

“When my girls first started using them, they would get in trouble because they were watching their speed and not paying attention to what they were doing,” he said. “They would fall, but you only do that once before you realize it’s not a good thing to do.”

Besides, he said of the little screen, “once you get used to it, you can pick it up without having to take focus off the mountain itself.”

Therein lies the rub. Safety advocates say it is not possible, as seductive as it might sound, to take in simultaneously two streams of information: the real-life action, and the virtual performance data.

“You’re effectively skiing blind; you’re going to miss a mogul or hit somebody,” said David Strayer, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, who for more than two decades has studied the science of attention and distraction. Even the briefest glance at the information takes over a skier’s field of vision and focus, he said.

I think I could pull it off. I have five monitors, and I can usually keep my peripheral vision on all of them. If something flashes on a far monitor, I can usually see it out of the corner of the eye. A heads-up display on googles would be easier.