Distractions – a growing injury issue moving beyond the car?

Distracted driving has justifiably received a tremendous amount of attention in the injury prevention field. But the issue of distractions and the associated injury risk might be getting even bigger and becoming more relevant outside of the motor vehicle realm.

There is lots of interesting speculation about an impending boom in wearable computing. Several major technology players seem set to release various types of wearable computing devices. The big ones are Apple Watch and Google Glass.

Check out a video of Google Glass here:

http://www.google.com/glass/start/how-it-feels/

The video has undeniable cool factor (at least to me) but it also shows people engaged in activities (flying a plane, high wire acrobatics, etc.) where I would think unnecessary distractions pose a significant injury risk.

While neither Apple Watch nor Google Glass has been commercially released, there are already wearable computing devices available now.  Oakley currently makes ski goggles that display various types of information including speed and there are several other companies that make eyewear intended for athletes such as runners and cyclists.

A recent New York Times article did a nice job of summarizing some of the concerns, including risk of injury, associated with these devices.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/business/high-tech-sports-goggles-vital-data-or-too-much-information.html?pagewanted=1&src=xps

The appeal of these types of devices is clear to me. As an avid cyclist, I would love to know real-time data on speed, cadence, heart rate, and power output but the potential dangers associated with these devices are not yet well understood. It will be interesting to see if the predicted boom in wearable computing actually happens and if it does (and it probably will) it could create a significant challenge for the field of injury prevention.