It's been a rough few weeks for Google Glass, the wearable Internet-connected device that has become a fashion status symbol among the tech elite.
In late September, researchers published what they believe is first reported case of Google Glass addiction. Writing in the journal Addictive Behaviors, they detailed the experiences of a 31-year-old man who they said experienced "frustration and irritability" related to withdrawal from excessive use of Google Glass. They also said he suffered from "involuntary movements to the temple area and short-term memory problems" associated with the device. Then in October, the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theatre Owners jointly announced that they would ban movie goers from wearing Google Glass in theaters. Concerns about the use of Google Glass in public places have ranged from privacy to general unsociability but the main concern for the movie industry has been its ability to record video and sound.
Now there's more bad news. Researchers say they have found that the head-mounted device may partially obstruct peripheral vision. Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, University of California, San Francisco researcher Tsontcho Ianchulev and his colleagues described the outcome of visual field tests on three subjects with a head-mounted Google Glass device vs. regular eyewear. They found "significant" blind spots in the upper right quadrant.
Why is this important? Google Glass was imagined by many to be a device that you leave on for long periods of time and that could augment what you do in your daily life by providing you with instant access to e-mail and other information you may need. But if it obstructs someone's vision, it could interfere with daily functions, such as driving, walking, and sports -- posing a danger to both the wearers and those around them.
The study's authors emphasize that the study subjects may not be representative of all users. "Additional studies are needed to understand the effects of these devices on visual function, particularly as their use becomes increasingly common," they wrote.