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Google Glass "DriveSafe" app keeps you awake at the wheel

Lawmakers continue to crack down on distracted driving, even going so far as wagging an accusing finger at Google Glass. But could the futuristic headset do more good than harm?

A new Glass app, dubbed DriveSafe, hopes to live up to its name by helping motorists stay alert while operating a vehicle.

Just ask nicely—"OK Glass, keep me awake"—and the application will interact with the specs to warn the user if they are dozing off.

Using an infrared light sensor and a tilt/angle sensor in Glass, DriveSafe connects with the device's advanced sensors to alert you if you're falling asleep. Lead developer Jake Steinerman told Computerworld that the IR sensor detects winks and blinks, while the tilt sensor measures the orientation of the user's head.

In other words, when eyelids and head begin falling, the gadget will send an audible alert through the bone conduction speaker to jolt the wearer back to full consciousness. It can also help find the nearest rest area for a quick stop to regain some energy for the remainder of the drive.

In a disclaimer on its website, the company makes it clear that DriveSafe is alpha software and is not guaranteed to save your life, nor should you rely on it in that way.

"DriveSafe is not liable for any accidents or injuries that may occur while using DriveSafe," the site said. "Be sure to be well rested and comfortable before driving, and keep your eyes on the road (DriveSafe can be used simply with your voice)."

Glass Explorers can get the first crack at the app, available via the company's website, along with directions on how to sideload apps onto the goggles.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The search giant, however, updated its Terms of Service in November, adding that its mobile devices should not be used "in a way that distracts you and prevents you from obeying traffic or safety laws." And Google Glass can certainly be classified as a distraction.

In fact, a San Diego commuter in October was ticketed for "Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass)."

And the UK government was eyeing a country-wide ban on using Glass behind the wheel, but the region's Department of Transport (DfT) has reportedly been discussing a road-ready headset, though there are no details about how they might engineer such a device.