Our connected devices are typically viewed as the root of the distracted driving problem, but what if they became part of the solution? A new app for Google Glass seeks to do just that.
DriveSafe is designed to help Google Glass wearers stay more alert at the wheel. Users engage the app through the voice command, "OK Glass, keep me awake." Then, DriveSafe quietly monitors the driver through the infrared and tilt sensors built into Google Glass. If the app's algorithm detects a certain number of blinks and a head tilt, it issues an audible alert through the device's bone conductor speaker and a visual prompt that offers to direct the user to the nearest rest area.
We reached out to DriveSafe's Jake Steinerman for more on what inspired the app:
It's fair to say that DriveSafe is a simple idea with a straightforward execution. In fact, Steinerman says it took his team only two weeks to develop a working prototype. But simplicity is key when attempting to safely integrate our devices into our driving experience.
I live in Michigan, where it can take up to five or six hours to get to places across the state, and being that I don't have the greatest driving stamina, I have found myself getting drowsy behind the wheel on multiple occasions. I also am a Google Glass Explorer (beta tester), and have been since June 2013, and often drive with it on, since it stays with me all day long.
Glass, outside of its uses as a neat way to take pictures and videos (hands free), also has a number of incredible sensors on board. Two of those sensors are an infrared eye sensor, and a tilt/angle sensor. The IR sensor is located on the inner side of the Glass hardware, and can detect a user's winks and blinks. The tilt sensor measures the angle that the wearers head is positioned at, and is currently used to turn the device on and navigate the Glass menu.
I combined my experience behind the wheel, with my observations and experiences with Glass, and thought of the idea for DriveSafe.
"A great UX (user experience) is extremely important on Glass, especially when it's being used behind the wheel," said Steinerman. "Since Glass is positioned above your eye, not in front, it is in your field of view, but not in your line of sight, you have a clear view of the road at all times."
Perhaps DriveSafe and other similar apps will serve as a model for how our smart devices could actually contribute to a safer driving experience. The question that remains is whether drivers will be allowed to sport a pair of Google Glass while behind the wheel. States like California have been grappling with the issue since Glass was introduced.
"Like any technology, such as smartphones and GPS units, there's potential for them to be used inappropriately and unsafely," said Steinerman. "However I think the benefits far outweigh the concerns, and devices like Google Glass are moving us in the right direction."