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Goggles with data dashboards: Distraction or the future?

Posting in Technology

With Google Glass on the horizon and firms manufacturing high-tech sportswear, is a line being crossed in terms of safety?

Oakley, a popular eyewear company, develops ski goggles that come with a warning: "Do not operate product while skiing." A contradiction in terms for the $600 pair of goggles, but why?

The Zeal HD camera goggles are naturally made for skiing and snowboarding, and the digital dashboard allows athletes to shoot videos of their exploits. It is this type of technology which has legal bodies worried -- as distraction paves the way for lawsuits.

Wearable computing, although not a new concept, has been brought to the spotlight with rumors of Apple smart watches and Google Glass, but in the same manner that interactive, app-laden car dashboards can distract a driver, how far can you go with sports enthusiasts before the latest gadget becomes a safety liability?

Oakley's googles include a lens display that tracks changing speed and altitude, are Bluetooth enabled, can show videos being shot in real-time and display text messages.

High-tech eyewear can allow a user to track their progress and push themselves further. However, some critics argue that in high-speed scenarios which require a user's undivided attention, creating two streams of data -- real-life and digital -- is only asking for trouble.

David Strayer, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah, has studied attention and distraction for years, and says that such technology means "You're effectively skiing blind; you're going to miss a mogul or hit somebody."

No accidents have yet been recorded using the goggles, but its probably only a matter of time. The real questions are: if you choose to use the googles are you liable rather than the firm, or do companies have a duty to restrict such technology to keep distraction at a minimum?

Read More: The New York Times

— By on April 21, 2013, 10:55 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure