Google Glass "distracting and dangerous"

Professors behind 200lb gorilla experiment claim wearable HUDs cannot overcome ‘inattentional blindness’.

The safety of spectacle-mounted heads-up display (HUD) Google Glass has been thrown into doubt by two prominent American psychologists.

Writing in the New York Times, Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris the researchers behind the 200lb gorilla' experiment   have claimed the wearable device is "hands free, but not brain free" and could lead to the same kind of distractions as hand-held devices.

Simons and Chabris claim the eyes-free' goal of Google Glass, as set out by the search giant's co-founder Sergey Brin at TED in March 2013, does address the inability of the human brain to look away from where it is going for more than a few seconds at a time. However, it ignores the fact that "looking is not the same as seeing".

"People make wrong assumptions about what will grab their attention," Simons and Chabris claim.

"About 70 per cent of Americans believe that people will notice when something unexpected enters their field of view, even when they're paying attention to something else.

"Yet experiments [have shown] that people often fail to notice something as obvious as a person in a gorilla suit in situations where they are devoting attention to something else...even when they look right at it. This phenomenon of inattentional blindness' shows that what we see depends not just on where we look but also on how we focus our attention," the two researchers said.

Simons and Chabris argue that more scientific research is needed before innovations such as Google Glass can be made safe.

"Google Glass may allow users to do amazing things, but it does not abolish the limits on the human ability to pay attention. We are especially unaware of how completely our attention can be absorbed by the continual availability of compelling and useful information.

"Only by understanding the science of attention and the limits of the human mind and brain can we design new interfaces that are both revolutionary and safe," the scientists concluded.

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