The other DWI: Driving while immersed


On May 17, Meta and BMW released one Video We welcome a collaborative research breakthrough that will enable virtual reality headsets to work in moving cars.

As the companies have figured out how to track a person’s body movement independently of the car’s movement, passengers and drivers can wear VR headsets to view the road and digital content at the same time, or to be fully immersed in a virtual world.

This is “the future we see coming,” says a meta-engineer in the video.

I believe putting virtual reality headsets in cars will kill people. VR is the most immersive medium ever invented – covering your eyes and ears, replacing the real world with a digital landscape. Meta – what was sold 80% of all headsets worldwide in the last year and around 20 million in total – faces the economic reality that VR is not going to replace video games or Zoom meetings anytime soon. So now they turn to the car and point out in the video that “everyone spends time in the car every day.”

I believe putting virtual reality headsets in cars will kill people. VR is the most immersive medium ever invented.

The idea of ​​someone driving a car with a VR headset might sound absurd, but twenty years ago the idea of ​​someone writing a memo while driving would have sounded just as unlikely.

Every day people lose loved ones because drivers prefer texting to driving. Approximately 5% of all car accidents are caused by distracted drivers, and text messaging has been shown to cause hundreds of deaths in the United States each year. While the narration in the meta press release focuses on passengers, there is footage of a driver using the system. In addition, your partner BMW is actively involved in this VR for drivers.

The most relevant data point on this topic is Pokémon GO, an augmented reality video game where players see the world in real-time but are mediated through their smartphone or AR headset by viewing an on-screen camera feed that is connected to Video game content is overlaid. The game has already contributed to many deaths. The website has specific news reports of distracted drivers running over pedestrians while viewing a Pokémon-filled version of the road.

A Purdue University learn quantified the phenomenon. Scientists analyzed nearly 12,000 police reports of accidents in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, both before and after the game’s 2016 release, which was downloaded 100 million times during the short study period. They found that in the months following the game’s release, crashes increased by a staggering 48% in areas where there were virtual Pokémon objects nearby, compared to areas where there were no virtual objects.

This game is still very popular; Of all the people who regularly play video games in the US, about a third are currently playing this AR game. At an ethics conference in March When I was there, we were told that the entire team at Niantic, the company that makes Pokémon GO, was just five people who were in charge of security.

In the meta-video, they backed up the action with the caption, “Closed Road Professional Drivers – Don’t Try It.” They challenge drivers to resist the temptation to use the most engaging and immersive medium ever invented. Apparently, the same strategy of hoping drivers will resist the temptation to text text has failed miserably.

Most of us can recall a recent experience when we glanced at our phone while driving and then immediately felt guilty because we lost track of the road for a moment. Now imagine that the center of attraction is not just a typed sentence, but an incredibly immersive VR version of your favorite band, a craps table in Vegas, or a pitch at a Lakers game. Pedestrians won’t stand a chance, and there’s no reason to think driver training or safety settings will be any more effective in VR than on cellphones.

I was a consultant for Samsung for several years, working on their AR/VR strategy. I once gave a speech and a brain teaser to about half of their senior management to help them understand the urgency of driving in the water. Imagine being able to go back in time and rebuild phones to have a speed switch that automatically turns off phones in moving cars. would you do it If you answer no, you’re basically killing people every day.

If you answer yes, drivers can meet up with friends on the way to the office. It was a tense but unworkable moment because of course there are no time machines. Smartphones in cars are now a part of life and every day innocent people will continue to die because they feel the need to text and drive.

To the decision makers at Meta, and to those at Apple planning to release their own headset in June: you don’t need a time machine. VR is still in its infancy. Do not do that.

Better yet, take a leadership role here. In the video, Meta highlighted a technical feat – the algorithmic separation of body movements and car movements. So actually may Build headsets with a speed switch that automatically turns off when cars are moving!

Just because you can get VR working in a car doesn’t mean you should. How many loved ones get killed because someone tries to hit a block with a lightsaber while driving?

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