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Google Displays Technology

Adjusting to Google Glass May Be Hard 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the unless-walking-into-things-is-your-preference dept.
New submitter fluxgate writes "Steve Mann (whom you might know for his having pioneered wearable computing as a grad student at MIT back in the 1990s) writes in IEEE Spectrum magazine about his decades of experience with computerized eyeware. His article warns that Google Glass hasn't been properly engineered to avoid creating disorientating effects and significant eyestrain. While it's hard to imagine that Google has missed something fundamental here, Mann convincingly describes why Google Glass users might experience serious problems. Quoting: 'The very first wearable computer system I put together showed me real-time video on a helmet-mounted display. The camera was situated close to one eye, but it didn’t have quite the same viewpoint. The slight misalignment seemed unimportant at the time, but it produced some strange and unpleasant results. And those troubling effects persisted long after I took the gear off. That’s because my brain had adjusted to an unnatural view, so it took a while to readjust to normal vision. ... Google Glass and several similarly configured systems now in development suffer from another problem I learned about 30 years ago that arises from the basic asymmetry of their designs, in which the wearer views the display through only one eye. These systems all contain lenses that make the display appear to hover in space, farther away than it really is. That’s because the human eye can’t focus on something that’s only a couple of centimeters away, so an optical correction is needed. But what Google and other companies are doing—using fixed-focus lenses to make the display appear farther away—is not good.'"
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Adjusting to Google Glass May Be Hard

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @06:49PM (#43050725)

    A mugger attractant that's more visible than white Apple earphones.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    From CNN:

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/25/tech/innovation/google-glass-privacy-andrew-keen

    #ifihadglass ... might be the end of privacy as we knew it. Does anyone doubt this will be used as yet another way for Google to harvest our data?

    • Does anyone doubt this will be used as yet another way for Google to harvest our data?

      Of course that's what the real idea behind the Google glasses is. To catalog everything you look at and append it to what is doubtless a huge database of your search histories, preferences, emails, etc. For anyone that has ever logged into a Google service or had some cookies on their machines. Their revenue is based on selling, so the more they can catalog on any and everyone, the happier they will be. All the way to the bank with all that money those marketing firms over there just gave them.

      • by SirSlud (67381)

        Did you just say, "had some cookies on their machine"?

        • I did. I've not ever been much for targeted advertising myself, which is one reason I very rarely use google for any searches and always clear my cache when I close my browser out. Same reason I refuse to use Chrome, the couple of times I've tried it, it seems that regardless of the behavior I tell it to use regarding my privacy settings it still catalogs every move I make. As for Gmail, I know Google parses my account in an attempt at targeted advertising as well, but I'll give them credit on their spam f
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      From CNN:

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/25/tech/innovation/google-glass-privacy-andrew-keen

      #ifihadglass ... might be the end of privacy as we knew it. Does anyone doubt this will be used as yet another way for Google to harvest our data?

      You know? What stops you building your own... or contributing to a kickstarter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You know? What stops you building your own... or contributing to a kickstarter.

        Nothing, but that's not the problem I was talking about. There will be millions of stupid people who buy the Google version, and *my* privacy will be destroyed because of *their* decision to Follow The Marketing.

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          You know? What stops you building your own... or contributing to a kickstarter.

          Nothing, but that's not the problem I was talking about. There will be millions of stupid people who buy the Google version, and *my* privacy will be destroyed

          Not trying to troll, but... maybe I'm slow today... please detail on how exactly is you privacy destroyed more than it is now? I mean, letting aside CCTV, even now you can be recorded in public by anyone who owns a smartphone.

          • by maxwell demon (590494) on Friday March 01, 2013 @07:36PM (#43051047) Journal

            But people usually don't run around holding their smartphone in recording position because it would be hard and look siilly. Google Glass is always in recording position by default, thus removing an important barrier to have it constantly recording. And there will surely be an incentive to have the camera always on (so that virtual objects can be put in the right place, or you can get extra information on what you currently see.

            Imagine a simple application which uses face recognition and image search to find out the name of the person you are currently looking at, and displaying it close to that person. An immensely useful application if you tend to forget people's names, or have problems recognizing people. However it means that (a) the wearer will immediately know the names of all people they see (as long as they are stored in the system), thus reducing your privacy relative to the wearer, and (b) Google will know the position of any person the wearer sees and the system can identify, even if that person has never used anything associated Google in their lifetime, thus reducing your privacy against Google. And if you ask how that image gets into the Google system: For example, some friend of him has stored a photo on Picasa.

            • by Solandri (704621)
              Personally I think this is going to be like loud motorcycles, spam, and nuclear weapons. You and I may not want it, but if someone else wants it there's little stopping them from getting it. These things are getting miniaturized to the point where even if you passed laws banning it, people who really wanted it could have it without you ever knowing.

              Fight to prevent it from coming into being if you like. But as with a nuclear North Korea and Iran, you'd better have a contingency plan for what to do whe
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by maxwell demon (590494)

                No matter if you want to fight against it or adapt to it, in any case the first step is awareness of the problem. Only if you are aware of the problem, you can decide on how to act on it. Therefore the most important thing is to tell people about the problems. Only if you are aware of the problems, you can make an informed decision. And only if you are aware of the problem, you can take appropriate precautions. Such precautions may be quite simple, like asking everyone coming into your home to leave their G

            • by Vlado (817879)

              You mean something like this:
              http://vimeo.com/46304267 [vimeo.com]
              ?

        • There is no solution to this problem, which already exists and will get worse, with or without Google Glass. Your best bet is to walk around with a ski mask, and even that will only stop some forms of privacy invasion.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          There will be millions of stupid people who buy the Google version, and *my* privacy will be destroyed because of *their* decision to Follow The Marketing.

          You think you have a right to privacy in a public place, but somehow THEY are the stupid ones?

          • by Anonymous Coward
            No I don't have expectation of privacy but I do largely have an expectancy of anonymity; I'm not someone so famous that TMZ will be following me 24/7. It is not that far fetched to think of an Orwellian world where we are identified and tracked everywhere, not by a Governmental Bigbrother but our Corporate Masters such as Google.
            • No I don't have expectation of privacy but I do largely have an expectancy of anonymity; I'm not someone so famous that TMZ will be following me 24/7. It is not that far fetched to think of an Orwellian world where we are identified and tracked everywhere, not by a Governmental Bigbrother but our Corporate Masters such as Google.

              You're not that important. Nobody cares.

              You will be anonymized.

        • Well, since that ship already sailed, or will sail over the next few years, you can retaliate by recording them back. To paraphrase David Brin, the next best thing to privacy is two-way surveillance.
          • by Dog-Cow (21281)

            That is precisely why so many police departments have the view that recording a police officer (on duty, in a public place) is or should be illegal.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      no, I don't doubt it. Maybe you should explain what gathering public data and making it available is a bad thing?

      The singkle best defence the people in the US have against abuse from police is cameras.
      The only people who shoud be conerned are 'UFO' watchers, and conspiracy theorist. Becasue the expansion of cameras is killing that nonsense.

      • no, I don't doubt it. Maybe you should explain what gathering public data and making it available is a bad thing?

        The singkle best defence the people in the US have against abuse from police is cameras.
        The only people who shoud be conerned are 'UFO' watchers, and conspiracy theorist. Becasue the expansion of cameras is killing that nonsense.

        Imagine looking at a constable and being able to bring up everything the public record has on him, almost instantly.
        Imagine walking into a crowded room, "tagging" the best looking person there, and then doing an in-depth query on their back story. The next time you see them, appropriate info is fed to you to be able to act like you're someone they should know and like.

        Both things have positive points, but can be used for great evil as well as great good.

        Now imagine if Google mounted a laser on the glasses....

        • Well, if that person isn't completely stupid, they would know that everybody can pull up enough info to pretend they know them, and that trick won't work any more. Society will adapt, mostly because it won't have a choice.
          • by Zorpheus (857617)
            Yeah, people will not trust someone whose face they have forgotten. Of course unless their own device tells them who it is.
            • Yeah, people will not trust someone whose face they have forgotten. Of course unless their own device tells them who it is.

              ...at which point, they guys who bury people's online history will have a new way to turn a profit.

              If everyone depends on Glass, that would make social engineering MUCH easier; I could pretend to be anyone with a bit of photoshop, a high ranking page, and a fakebook account.

        • by Zerth (26112)

          Imagine walking into a crowded room, "tagging" the best looking person there, and then doing an in-depth query on their back story. The next time you see them, appropriate info is fed to you to be able to act like you're someone they should know and like.

          And that person does a back search on you as well and realizes that you have never been within a mile of them before this night, nor have you ever been to any of the places you claim to have been or done any of the things you claim to have done.

          Ouch.

          • Imagine walking into a crowded room, "tagging" the best looking person there, and then doing an in-depth query on their back story. The next time you see them, appropriate info is fed to you to be able to act like you're someone they should know and like.

            And that person does a back search on you as well and realizes that you have never been within a mile of them before this night, nor have you ever been to any of the places you claim to have been or done any of the things you claim to have done.

            Ouch.

            Or, you could just use it to do things like find topics of conversation that would get her excited and avoid doing things that would offend her, and have her enjoy her evening with you and hope to do it again sometime soon.

            Perhaps finding out that the third best looking person there is an uninhibited sex freak like you who is going to say yes if you ask her is more your speed.

            Then, a year later, you can use it to find other people who are HIV+ like yourself to approach.

            The possibilities are endl

    • Is this like the disorientation I used to feel when I wore my grandparents' glasses as a kid?

  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday March 01, 2013 @06:54PM (#43050759)

    Reminds me of when I was a kid and I heard about this guy who, as an experiment, wore a pair of glasses that inverted what he saw. After a while (weeks, I think), his brain adjusted by flipping the image upright. When he stopped wearing the glasses, it took some time for his vision to return to normal.

    [citation needed]

    • by jesushaces (777528) on Friday March 01, 2013 @07:04PM (#43050853)
      It's in TFA (sorry, I'm new. won't do it again)

      Research dating back more than a century helps explain this. In the 1890s, the renowned psychologist George Stratton constructed special glasses that caused him to see the world upside down. The remarkable thing was that after a few days, Stratton’s brain adapted to his topsy-turvy worldview, and he no longer saw the world upside down. You might guess that when he took the inverting glasses off, he would start seeing things upside down again. He didn’t. But his vision had what he called, with Victorian charm, “a bewildering air.”

      Also, for more info on Stratton's experiment check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_M._Stratton#Wundt.27s_lab_and_the_inverted-glasses_experiments [wikipedia.org]

    • by c0lo (1497653) on Friday March 01, 2013 @07:05PM (#43050855)
      You only need to RTFA, it is of course mentioned. There's even something more: the effect and time to get back to normal is inverse to the magnitude of the change: for an upside down change, the adaptation is longer but the revert to normal is almost immediate.

      Research dating back more than a century helps explain this. In the 1890s, the renowned psychologist George Stratton constructed special glasses that caused him to see the world upside down. The remarkable thing was that after a few days, Stratton’s brain adapted to his topsy-turvy worldview, and he no longer saw the world upside down. You might guess that when he took the inverting glasses off, he would start seeing things upside down again. He didn’t. But his vision had what he called, with Victorian charm, “a bewildering air.”

      Through experimentation, I’ve found that the required readjustment period is, strangely, shorter when my brain has adapted to a dramatic distortion, say, reversing things from left to right or turning them upside down. When the distortion is subtle—a slightly offset viewpoint, for example—it takes less time to adapt but longer to recover.

      • by Longjmp (632577)

        You only need to RTFA, it is of course mentioned.

        You must be new here (see post above ;)

        [...] When the distortion is subtle -- a slightly offset viewpoint, for example -- it takes less time to adapt but longer to recover.

        So, I have no proof whatsoever, not even a glance of a hint, but this always seemed logical to me:
        If you provide the brain with some slightly different view (compared to its normal one), it adapts more easily.
        But also, since the view is only a bit distorted (from a brain's point of "view") it seems logical to me that it will accept this (more easily) as the "normal" view, and thus giving it more trouble to re-learn the original views.

        Makes sense?

    • [citation provided]

      George Stratton [wikipedia.org] did an experiment on perceptual adaptation [nyu.edu] in the 1980's.

      This differs completely from the adaptation of expectation that takes place when lens of propaganda driven public education is promoted, a priori, then erased over time by continual exposure to reality. You don't just wake up one day and figure out that the American Dream should be referred to as the Grand Illusion. It takes much longer to figure out that your government, and other 'fiduciaries', might not be up t

  • It'll fail (Score:1, Flamebait)

    He's probably right but the fact you look like a penis and people will assume you're recording them and get pissed is reason enough it'll fail even if google wants to rip on their own mobile OS and call it emasculating.
  • Opti-Grab (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @06:57PM (#43050787)

    They should attach a little handle to the nose bridge so people can easily adjust the fixed focus lenses.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by yams69 (986130)
      I'm worried that they're selling a product they didn't even test on prisoners!
      • Interestingly if prisoners were wearing it there would be an opportunity to review and discuss behavior inside what we laughingly call corrective incarceration. Recording individual experience offers some intriguing opportunities as well as threats. Its happening already - see the video of the south African taxi driver being murdered by the police as an example. We need to talk about pervasive monitoring and establish some new "constitutional rights" before it gets out of control and controls us before we

    • by Oyjord (810904)

      +1 for "The Jerk" reference.

    • by pipingguy (566974)
      http://opti-grab.ca/ [opti-grab.ca]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    People will still flock to it. Then, others will capitalise on treating the ailments caused by the optional eye-wear.

  • the Nintendo Virtualboy.

    You heard it here first.

    • the Nintendo Virtualboy.

      You heard it here first.

      The laughable utility, stupid name, and quick demise of a touchscreen tablet device from Apple was also predicted here.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Apple themselves predicted that no-one would want a 7" tablet. Apparently predicting consumer demand for products is hard.

  • by jabberw0k (62554) on Friday March 01, 2013 @07:28PM (#43050991) Homepage Journal

    The word is disorenting, I have been reliably informated. Your misuse of suffixes must be cessated and desistated, or your poetic license will be cancellated. Although "(dis)orientation," "information," "cessation," and "cancellation" are verbs, the corresponding verbs are "(dis)orient," "inform," "cease," and "cancel" -- no "-ate" at the end.

  • by MCSEBear (907831) on Friday March 01, 2013 @07:51PM (#43051143)
    You might want to listen to the guy who figured out how to pull this off without damaging the user's eyesight decades ago, Google.

    TFA:

    Google Glass and several similarly configured systems now in development suffer from another problem I learned about 30 years ago that arises from the basic asymmetry of their designs, in which the wearer views the display through only one eye. These systems all contain lenses that make the display appear to hover in space, farther away than it really is. That’s because the human eye can’t focus on something that’s only a couple of centimeters away, so an optical correction is needed. But what Google and other companies are doing—using fixed-focus lenses to make the display appear farther away—is not good.

    Using lenses in this way forces one eye to remain focused at some set distance while the focus of the other eye shifts according to whatever the wearer is looking at, near or far. Doing this leads to severe eyestrain, which again can be harmful, especially to children.

  • by balsy2001 (941953) on Friday March 01, 2013 @07:56PM (#43051177)
    The Target Acquisition and Designation Sights, Pilot Night Vision System (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Target_Acquisition_and_Designation_System,_Pilot_Night_Vision_System) for the AH-64 uses a single eye piece. So it seems like this type of thing can and has been done (and this one is pretty cool, it tracks the head movements of the pilot and points the 50 caliber cannon where he/she looks). The single eye piece doesn't seem to cause problems for the pilots that use these systems. Not saying I am interested in Google Glass, but they should have been able to figure out the problem discussed in the TFA.
    • by mill3d (1647417) on Friday March 01, 2013 @08:25PM (#43051335)

      The Apache systems completely replaces the field of view of the targeting eye and is designed to work alongside binocular vision, overlaying data atop what is seen by both eyes ; albeit in different colors (augmented reality). The perspective remains the same for both eyes though.

      The problem with Glass seems to be in forcing a spatially unrelated image onto one eye forcing the focus to shift from from the environment to the Glass display, the strain coming from the other eye having to focus somewhere in mid-air. That's unnatural and needs to be forced without a distinct object to look at.

      • the strain coming from the other eye having to focus somewhere in mid-air. That's unnatural and needs to be forced without a distinct object to look at.

        I don't see this (no pun intended). It would be no harder to focus on than focusing on your hand held up in the air. (And it specifically avoids the problem Mann is talking about.)

        • by mill3d (1647417)
          Stereoscopic vision effortlessly focuses on objects we look at with both eyes; it takes a conscious effort to focus on an arbitrary point that isn't seen by both eyes. As an example, put a finger in front of one eye in a way that the other eye doesn't see it, just as is the case with Glass (close the "finger" eye to check). Now of you try to focus on your finger, you'll notice that your vision doesn't naturally do so ; the natural reflex is to move your head back. Since you can't move your head in this c
          • by balsy2001 (941953)
            It is very common for competition shooters to put a barrier in front of one eye while focusing on the target with the other (I don't find that it take conscious effort, and I only shoot like this randomly as I am not a competition shooter). This keeps them from having to have one eye closed for long periods which gets tiring. In the case of a shooter, your brain just forgets about the other eye while in that situation. If I place my finger close enough to my eye that the other one can't see it, I can't f
            • Rather tragically - When I was a kid my 'sport' in school was shooting. Rifle range... every day. For a couple of hours at a time.

              I was advised to 'close my other eye' when sighting, but I found it tiring and I didn't. I was an excellent shot and my team won many competitions.
              My vision at the time was excellent. I had a nickname of 'eagle eye' for my ability to see things at a distance, or spot things lost in grass, or pick things out of a wreck of a bedroom...

              Later on in life though, I have found that my v

          • I did something like that before I wrote my comment. I put my left hand between my eyes like a curtain, held up my right hand close enough that it wasn't visible to my left eye. And just now, a better example; holding up a small notepad page and reading what's written on it. I just don't have the problem you are describing (nor the "readjustment" that Mann is describing.) I focus just as easily as I can with one eye closed.

            Obviously, if I put my hand/finger too close to my eye, I have trouble focusing. But

            • I did something like that before I wrote my comment. I put my left hand between my eyes like a curtain, held up my right hand close enough that it wasn't visible to my left eye. And just now, a better example; holding up a small notepad page and reading what's written on it. I just don't have the problem you are describing (nor the "readjustment" that Mann is describing.) I focus just as easily as I can with one eye closed.

              I don't think that experiment has much value, unless you try to model the

              • I was responding to mill3d's specific claim that he has difficulty focusing on something with only one eye, that he has to force it, strains his opposite eye, and instinctively tries to move his head back to the bring the target into focus. My own experiment showed no such effect. I now wonder if he mistakenly thought the Glass user had to focus on the display an inch in front of his eye.

      • by balsy2001 (941953)
        You may be saying this but for those unfamiliar with the set up, see the third picture in this link and the description (http://science.howstuffworks.com/apache-helicopter5.htm). It works with a monocular lens, the left eye never gets covered nor has the projected image.
    • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:16PM (#43051649)

      And a percentage of pilot-candidates flunk out because they can never adapt to it. The rest have to be trained to it. Not something you want in a general consumer device.

      That said, I don't see Mann's objection. His first display worked like the Apache system, with the same problems. Google Glass works differently to both.

      • I remember that movie! The guy was left eye dominant and had to get 'trained' by driving around a jeep etc (montage scene) with the dominant eye covered so that his Apache controlling eye stopped being a lazy bugger. Then there was some great helicopter shoot-outs and America won.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_Birds [wikipedia.org]

  • Is adjusting harder than adjusting to bifocals or trifocals?

    I doubt it....

  • And those troubling effects persisted long after I took the gear off. That’s because my brain had adjusted to an unnatural view, so it took a while to readjust to normal vision.

    Hey, I'd rather have the direct neural link too. But seriously? Whoever manages to come up with a truly viable wearable "augmented reality" system wins. Why the hell would I want to take it off?

    Let my brain adjust to having my left higher and further to the left! If I really need to react on a moment's notice to a loss
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You'd need to take it off for repairs, for cleaning, for upgrades, when cleaning yourself, when going through airport security, when swimming or any other time it could get wet, when you get stopped by police for any reasons (speeding, they don't like the look, etc...), when met by a business owner on a power trip, places video recording isn't allowed (court house, some companies), during eye exams and many other medical procedures (x-rays, dental work, MRIs, etc...), and stupid people try to rip it off you

  • ...writing out millions of checks for 1 dollar and nine cents! I see history may repeat itself.
  • So what's supposed to happen when my eye is already malfunctioning and i need glasses anyway? Can i adjust the focal point? How does it compensate for any cylindrical adjustments i might need? Does this work when it projects through my glasses? As an already hipster-before-it-was-hip, wearing glasses because I need to see sharp, i've never seen any of these questions answered... Will I feel disabled because I can't see what's projected by google glasses?
    • Judging by the PR page [google.com] (third image from bottom), the GG can have your conventional lenses attached. But it looks like you can't wear regular glasses and Glass, so you'd need to get your Glass customised with your lenses. [Obligatory "Yo dawg..." taken as read.]

      However, in some of the early demos, the display itself can be removed from its own frame and attached to any suitable pair of glasses, with the display sitting just in front of your normal lens. Ie, the included frame is just for people who don't we

  • It's another massive failure of Google (viz Wave)
  • The camera was situated close to one eye, but it didnâ(TM)t have quite the same viewpoint.

    But I don't think that Glass is meant to be an AR system. It's a display in the corner of your vision, so it can't overlay things on the center of your vision (as was made clear in the latest 'preview' video).

    It's this misunderstanding that might kill Glass, people have unrealistic expectations.

  • This will certainly be interesting for older folks that can no longer change the power of their lens. If the optical distance isn't an exact match to the distance at which they naturally focus (unlikely unless they spent their life reading indoors, most people are stuck accommodated to infinity) they will have no luck reading the virtual display. There would have to be some optical correction put in specific to their correction (e.g. a reading monocle). That would mean walking around with one eye focused
  • I wonder how different the Glass experience will be for those of us who have atypical vision. I can see fine, but I focus with one eye at a time. I had surgery on both eyes for strabismus as a child. Now you can't tell that my eyes are slightly out of alignment unless you get close and are very observant, or I get tired and they start going off in different directions on their own :)
    Anyway, this has caused issues for me when trying to use binoculars (I just end up using them one-eyed like a spyglass). If I

  • ...he sure has a sticky "memory buffer":

    From the current article:
    "The impact and fall injured my leg and also broke my wearable computing system, which normally overwrites its memory buffers and doesn’t permanently record images. But as a result of the damage, it retained pictures of the car’s license plate and driver, who was later identified and arrested thanks to this record of the incident."

    From his blog, in relation to an incident at McDonalds (http://eyetap.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/u

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