Google Glass has a navigation problem.
You see, one of the device’s slickest tricks is its ability to beam directions to your eyes without requiring you to reach for your phone. But the second you step behind a wheel, this ability transforms from potentially awesome to potentially dangerous. That’s because, in order to read the Google Glass display (which sits mere inches in front of your eye) you need to shift your focus to very near ground — and away from the action behind it.
Now, if you’re walking down the sidewalk, this constant change of focus isn’t really a problem. But when you’re driving, and need to be aware of the dizzying intricacies of traffic, glancing up and shifting your focus to the foreground could be downright distracting.
Of course, just about any digital device poses a potential hazard for drivers. But Google seems to expect — if not encourage — Glass users to use the device while driving: While the device gives you the ability to switch between driving, walking, and cycling directions, the current version of its software defaults navigation to the driving mode.
Now, there strikes me as a very simple solution to this problem. My idea: Google should create a way of pairing Glass with the decade’s most exciting trend in in-car tech: HUD (or heads-up displays), which transparently project vital info such as your next turn onto your car’s windshield in a way that allows you to soak it up while keeping your eyes on the road.
In case I haven’t made it clear: I love HUD displays (yes, I know calling them “HUD displays” is like calling something an “ATM machine,” but it sounds smoother). I’ve played around with various versions of the tech from various auto manufacturers, and it strikes me as both extremely convenient and potentially lifesaving.
So now lets bring it all home: Wouldn’t it be cool if Google Glass gave you navigation directions while you were walking, but the second it detected you had entered your car, transferred the navigation info to your car’s HUD? This should be a relatively easy solution to program: Both Google Glass and most modern cars have Bluetooth, which allows devices to both detect proximity (key for knowing when the Glass-wearer has entered the car), and transfer the navigation info.
There Will Be HUD
Now, HUD displays can still be described as “nascent” tech — you’re only slightly more likely to have a car with this feature than you are to possess Google Glass. Which is why I’m so excited about the recently announced Garmin HUD, scheduled to hit shelves later this summer. The surprisingly affordable (just $130) Garmin HUD projects directions from a companion smartphone app onto a transparent film that you place on your windshield.
In other words: This is HUD for everybody. Even more importantly: It’s HUD from a competent technology company. This is key for two reasons: First: I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say the in-car infotainment offerings that come from most major car makers are downright dangerous in their un-user-friendliness.
Second: Garmin is the sort of company that would know how to ably pair their product with something such as Glass. They’ve made Bluetooth products before, and have developed smartphone apps. Putting all the pieces together so that my dream of “hopping” basic navigation data from Google Glass’ personal HUD to an in-car HUD? That should be a cakewalk for Garmin. And I’d encourage all the players involved to make it a reality.
It very well could save lives.
Image: DPA/AFP/Getty Images