The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

UK Preemptive Strike Targets Drivers Wearing Google Glass

The UK's Department of Transport is working to stop driving with Google Glass before it starts

2 min read
UK Preemptive Strike Targets Drivers Wearing Google Glass

Drivers caught wearing Google Glass behind the wheel won't escape the long arm of the law in the United Kingdom. The UK's Department of Transport is already working with police to prevent use of Google's augmented reality display on the road—even though the device won't go on sale for most people until 2014.

The UK move to block use of Google's smart glasses while driving comes in addition to existing penalties for using mobile phones without hands-free accessories, according to ZDNet. It's unclear whether or not the head-mounted glasses would fit under the existing law or a new law, but the UK already plans to raise fines for careless driving behaviors from £60 to £90 (about US $91 to $136).

Only U.S. members of Google's Explorer program can currently buy the $1500 Explorer edition of the smart glasses.U.S. lawmakers in West Virginia have also aimed to block use of Google Glass among drivers in their own state legislature bill, but won't likely pass the bill until 2014.

Presumably any laws banning Google Glass would also extend to similar head-mounted smart glasses being developed by many other device manufacturers.

The spirit of such laws follows in the wake of legislation banning texting or other handheld phone use while driving, given that such activities have been proven to increase the risks of an accident on the road. Even voice-activated systems used for dictating an email or text message—or hearing the messages read aloud to the driver—can worsen driver distraction. (That's a serious problem when more than half of all new cars are expected to have voice recognition systems.)

Both lawmakers and researchers may also want to consider the possibly distracting effects of augmented reality displays being developed for the windshields of cars—something not all that different from Google's smart glasses. Allowing cars to have windshield displays showing emails or text messages might be just as bad as wearing smart glasses.

Given the current limitations on the human brain's attention capacity, drivers may not be able to safely enjoy their mobile and wearable computing devices until Google's other big projectself-driving robot cars—takes off.

Photo: Google Glass: Ole Spata/AP Photo; Road: iStockphoto

The Conversation (0)

Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

Keep Reading ↓Show less