University of California Researchers Say Google Glass May Cause Blind Spots

Google Glass is an exciting ongoing development in the fields of wearable technology and heads up displays (HUDs). At the same time, it's also been the center of various controversies, such as privacy concerns and the ability to fun afoul of copyright laws by illegally recording certain content. However, there's a new concern that's emerged, and it has to do with blind spots.

A new study calls to attention that conventional glasses can reduce the wearer's visual field, sometimes causing absolute scotomas, or blind spots, and that head-mounted devices have even more pronounced frames.

"What we've done is test the glasses in a very simple low-budget way, using standard ophthalmology to compare it to regular eyewear," Dr. Tsontcho Ianchulev, lead author of the research letter regarding Google Glass, told CBSNews. "And we found that the frame of Google Glass cuts out a portion of your vision that prevents a user from seeing things on the right side of their visual field."


Dr. Ianchulev isn't out to be a killjoy, and instead claims he's "very pro new technology" as well as an early adopter of Google Glass. However, it was through that experience as an early adopter that he became concerned. Dr. Ianchulev says he nearly got into a car accident while driving and wearing Google Glass, and it was even turned off at the time. That was when he began to think about how much peripheral vision is sacrificed by wearing Google Glass.

Far from a definitive study, Ianchulev and his team examined three people, each with 20/20 corrected vision. They were given an hour to adapt to Google Glass, after which time the software was turned off and standard peripheral vision testing began.

The study found a "clinically meaningful" loss of vision in the upper right quadrant in each of the three cases. That's the bad news. The good news? Dr. Ianchulev says the problem is fixable since it relates to the frames themselves.

You can read the study here (PDF).