Test Driving Google Glass And Seeing Land Rover Through New Eyes

Land Rover Discover Vision Concept
Edging closer and taking pictures of the Land Rover Discover Vision Concept reveal #throughglass

‘X-ray Vision’ Google Glass: The Perfect Way to Experience Land Rover’s ‘Transparent Hood’

If there was a more perfect time to wear Google Glass, the reveal of the new Land Rover Discover Vision Concept may have been it. The company introduced a new technology that allows drivers to ‘see through’ the SUV’s hood to the terrain beyond; it’s a heads up display system basically with x-ray vision.

To convey the idea of all this information literally in front of your eyes, the carmaker invited a group of journalists to spend a few days wearing Google Glass and to witness the reveal, or unveiling, of the Discover Vision concept and see it through the wearable technology.

As one of nearly 200 witnesses at the launch event, I took a peek at the new Discover Vision Concept through a fresh technological perspective. Watch the video to see what I saw:

Land Rover, in an effort to show the future direction of this iconic brand, has partnered with Virgin Galactic to get in on the innovative, “not-even-the-sky’s-the-limit” approach that is a renowned characteristic of Sir Richard Branson’s brand.

Google Glass

Capturing the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept reveal aboard the USS Intrepid in New York hands-free through Google Glass.


Can Google Glass Change the Way We Capture a Moment?

Auto shows are all about the fanfare of new car introductions, and what was unique about this concept debut was my ability to witness the Land Rover reveal using a loaner pair of Google Glass.

Land Rover Google Glads

Looking down at the Land Rover fleet from the USS Intrepid’s deck

It was a great gadget to have at the New York Auto Show, which is the scene of many car reveals. At the moment that the cloth is removed from the new car, a flurry of arms holding cameras and phones fly up in the air, so unless you’re in the front row, it’s impossible to capture the moment without dozens of arms and smartphones in your shot.

Google Glass

Edging closer and taking pictures of the Land Rover Discover Vision Concept reveal–hard to see if you’re not up front. Will Google Glass change all that?

Enter Google Glass.

With audiences outfitted with smart glasses, moments can more easily be witnessed and captured by the entire audience. The only downside is a room full of android-like humans snapping pictures with their eyes or giving monotonous commands to their eyewear (a little on the creepy side).

Google Glass

Land Rover gives us a peek inside to the Discovery Vision Concept


Wearable Technology: Some Opinions Debunked, Others Reinforced

Like many, I’d developed a few opinions of Google Glass without having ever tried a pair. But I’m glad I ditched my pride to wear them for a few days when I’d be among many friends and hundreds of strangers.

When wearing Glass, I instantly became a brand ambassador for Google’s product. As a woman, I believe I was more approachable in Glass because I made them work with my outfit and hairstyle. Fellow auto journalists at the event came up and asked me questions about Glass. I told them how it worked and let them try it on. It was fun to be wearing something unique and get to share the experience with others; I definitely enjoyed that part of it.

Google is now selling Glass for $1,500 to just about anyone who wants to get their hands on it. Is it worth it? I wouldn’t shell out that kind of money for this version of the gadget for two reasons: it’s clunky and it doesn’t work that well. I do like their new titanium frames that look like a regular pair of hipster glasses with the module attached, but I’d wait for Glass to be more refined before I invest. When the fashion industry adopts wearable technology then I think the rest of us will be more accepting.

Google Glass

When wearing Google Glass, I instantly became a brand ambassador for Google’s product.

What About Real-World Application…and Distracted Driving? 

Then there’s the distracted driving argument. One misconception I had of Glass before using it was that it is completely distracting when you’re wearing it because it’s a constant stream of information.

In fact, Google Glass lies dormant until you get a notification or you activate it, which you can do hands-free. The eyepiece rests just above your natural line-of-sight, so there’s nothing directly in your vision until you’re ready to look at it.

I would think Glass currently meets the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) requirements for automakers on the duration of “looking away” to perform functions while driving a car, but already, there have been lawsuits claiming otherwise.

Is Google Glass Foolproof?

No. People are going to continue to choose distraction over common sense (and statistics). I’m hopeful, however, that over time there will be more acceptance of these technologies as hands-free solutions to driver distraction.

During auto show season, reveals are a dime-a-dozen. It’s tough to make it something special and memorable. While I’m not sold on Google Glass, I’m really glad they and Land Rover offered me the opportunity to test drive them. I’d welcome the chance to do more experimentation with them in the future.

I was a guest of Land Rover, which provided my travel and accommodations, at the New York Auto Show. Opinions expressed are all my own.

Melanie Batenchuk is the founder and editor of Be Car Chic. In 2009, she combined her unbridled passion for... More about Melanie Batenchuk