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This article is from the WebMD News Archive

Will 'Google glasses' be safe?

The search engine giant is working on augmented reality glasses that put information about the world around you right in front of your eyes, but safety experts and an eye specialist have concerns

Eyestrain continued...

There are technologies that make images close to the head look a long way away, like autorefractors used by optometrists for some eye tests. If that's used, she says: "It may well be you can focus on the image as well as the lamppost, the shop, the street or wherever you are."

Karen Sparrow says eyestrain is a potential risk with the Google glasses, just as it is for anyone staying at a computer screen, book or TV for too long. "Those kinds of things are tiring your eyes out. You could get eyestrain or headaches, all of which will be short term effects, but still quite debilitating when you're feeling them."

Immersive experience

Instead of using a keyboard, the glasses are voice activated. "If you accidentally said the wrong word while you're crossing the road, something might pop up in front of you," Karen Sparrow says, "which might be a problem if there's a big red bus coming towards you."

She's also keen that safeguards are built in to stop augmented reality glasses being used when driving.

Another concern she has is how immersive the experience is, depending on what application is being used, such as gaming. "You might be creating a completely new world in front of somebody, and unless that's done in a safe environment, they might step forward, step off something. It would completely obliterate the real world and put a virtual world in front of them."

Reviewed on April 11, 2012

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