A consumer technology report on BBC Radio 2’s ‘Big Show’ on 10 January included reference to a computer monitor that fits over the eye and can enable drivers to access emails, messages, and videos while driving.
On the show, which is presented by Steve Wright, technology expert Olly Mann explained how the Vuzix M100 is much like a “monocle”.
Olly Mann said: “It’s connected via Bluetooth to your phone, and the idea is that you can be driving along, glance upwards, and see for example, a text message.”
Steve Wright said that this sounds dangerous, but Olly Mann claimed that he had used it and “it’s just the same as seeing a sign you’re passing on the motorway”.
The Vuzix website describes the product as follows: "Vuzix smart glasses M100 is the world’s first enhanced "Hands Free" smartphone display and communications system for on-the-go data access from your Smartphone and the Internet.
"Running applications under the Android operating system; text, video, email, mapping, audio and all we have come to expect from smartphones is available through this wireless personal information display system."
Commenting on the use of the device, Nick Reed, principal human factors researcher at TRL, said: "Use of a monocle device to allow a driver to access emails, messages and videos may reduce the amount of time the driver takes their eyes away from the road in order to view such communications compared to use of a smartphone.
"However, as with a smartphone, one must also consider the degree to which this device results in cognitive distraction of the driver. Even if the driver has their eye on the road, their mind may be distracted by the content of an incoming message, resulting in distraction effects that may limit a driver’s ability to respond in safety critical situations.
"Similarly, the apparent ease of using the device may encourage a driver to use it more often, potentially worsening the problem.
"I would be keen for validated tests to be conducted to see if the claimed benefits are there and whether there are any distraction effects that may potentially place drivers and road users at risk."
Click here to listen to the discussion on The Big Show.
FOOTNOTE: we invited The Big Show to comment on this story but to date have not had a response.
Acknowledgement: thanks to Caroline Derosaire, Monmouthshire CC, for bringing this to our attention.