"I think it's pretty cool," said Mr. Mahoney during an interview
in New York. "The demo that I saw was pretty fascinating. But I
don't know. I think it's going that way…It's going to come
at some point," he added.
Why an automaker and Google would team up for a Glass deal is
unclear. The most obvious approach would be as part of a navigation
system. But if Glass already has navigation built in, why would a
user be tempted toward one particular car brand over another? And
auto companies would need a lot of convincing to embrace Glass an
alternative to their own nascent Heads-Up Display and navigation
systems, said Carroll Lachnit, features editor at Edmunds.com.
Of course, announcing a deal with Google could give an automaker
a bit of buzz in the tech world. The $1,500 prototypes are
currently only being used by a few thousand influential early
adopters, or "Glass Explorers" as Google calls them.
And an argument could be made that the roads would be made safer
by cutting down on the number of auto accidents caused by
distracted driving. According to the U.S. Department of
Transportation, 3,321 people were killed, and another 387,000
injured, in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2011, the last
full year numbers were available.
Wearing Google Glass, drivers can better keep their eyes on the
road and hands on the wheel -- rather than looking down or sideways
at a mobile phone or on-board navigation screen.
But Glass critics aren't thrilled with the idea of drivers
getting behind the wheel wearing a high-tech gadget that could
potentially disrupt their vision and concentration.
Earlier this year, transportation authorities in the United
Kingdom moved to ban British drivers from wearing Glass. Concerned
that Glass could become as big a distraction to young, tech-savvy
drivers as texting behind the wheel, West Virginia lawmakers
introduced a bill to ban drivers from using a "wearable computer
with a head-mounted display."
Even if hands-free Glass helps drivers keep eyes on the road and
their hands on the wheel, it can still cause "cognitive"
distraction, said Ms. Lachnit.
"You can see what's in front of you. But you may not have your
attention fully engaged in the business of driving," she said.
In fact, the cover story for the Aug. 24 issue of ScienceNews
was "Under the Influence: Why Even Hands-Free Calls Seriously
Even Mr. Mahoney agreed. "I still think at the end of the day
whether you're looking down here, or looking straight up, there's
still some potential to be distracted. You're driving the car, your
kids are screaming in the back, your wife is trying to talk to you.
It's about how much attention you can put straight ahead."
Google declined to comment on its meeting with Chevrolet or
whether it's holding similar demos for other auto makers. But
Google executives are said to privately express frustration with
misperceptions about Glass. The smart glasses don't cover your
eyes, for example, but sit above them, out of your line of vision.
Glass' default position is off. Explorers have to tap the frame to
So rather than seeing a constant stream of directions, Glass
could potentially give drivers short illuminated message when it's
time to make a turn -- before powering down again.
"It's early days and we are thinking very carefully about how we
design Glass because new technology always raises new issues. Our
Glass Explorer program, which reaches people from all walks of
life, will ensure that our users become active participants in
shaping the future of this technology," said a Google spokesman in