Will Google Glass Cause You To Overlook Gorillas?

Chris CrumIT Management

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The New York Times ran an interesting piece about Google Glass written by University of Illinois professor of psychology Daniel J. Simons and Union College professor of psychology Christopher F. Chabris. The two authored “The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us.”

The article questions the safety of Google Glass. It doesn't so much question the safety of the device itself, but that of the human brain and how it would deal with the the real world while wearing the device. The duo says:

According to the results of two representative national surveys we conducted, about 70 percent 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 that we and others have conducted showed 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. Researchers using eye-tracking devices found that people can miss the gorilla 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.

While a person in a gorilla suit may seem like a funny example, this is actually a pretty important subject, particularly if the device goes mainstream.

Some states are already looking at banning the device while driving. As discussed in a recent article, however, one of the engineers behind Google Glass has spoken about "super vision" and "night vision" one day being possibilities with the technology.

There are other apparent dangers of wearing Google Glass. For one, as Google says right in its own Glass FAQ that it could be harmful to some eyes, particularly children's.

"Glass isn’t for everyone. Like when wearing glasses, some people may feel eye strain or get a headache," Google says. "If you’ve had Lasik surgery, ask your doctor about risks of eye impact damage before using Glass. Don’t let children under 13 use Glass as it could harm developing vision. Also, kids might break Glass or hurt themselves, and Google’s terms of service don’t permit those under 13 to register a Google account."

Another danger would be getting punched in the face by this guy.

Image: 2001: A Space Odyssey (MGM/Warner Bros.)

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.