Mercedes-Benz has developed a navigation system that uses a pair of glasses with a voice-activated interface on one of the lenses -- Google Glass -- to merge the experience of driving with what Mercedes calls "digital living."
"This is an example of a seamless transition as you stay connected when you get to your car, when you drive, and when you leave your car," Johann Jungwirth, head of Mercedes' North American r&d, told Automotive News Europe.
Mercedes' overall goal is to allow drivers to access the same information in their cars that is stored on their smartphones, PCs and other digital devices.
The Mercedes version of the Google Glass system offers several functions. For example, it can guide a driver to his or her car and transfer a destination address to the car's navigation system. When the driver leaves the vehicle Google Glass takes over again, bringing the wearer to the final destination.
Mercedes says it will offer the Google Glass application when Google makes Google Glass commercially available.
According to Jungwirth, Mercedes could also offer many infotainment applications in conjunction with Google Glass, although he did not indicate what these might be.
Others likely to follow
Konrad Wessner, general manager of Germany-based market research agency Puls, said it is inevitable that other automakers will look at Google Glass applications, even though Mercedes competitors such as Audi and BMW have not yet announced plans to do so. For example, Google Glass could offer drivers better and safer Internet access in the car, which is what customers want, Wessner said.
According to a Puls study, 45 percent of German car owners were interested in using Google Glass to connect to the Internet and 47 percent said they wanted direct Internet access in their cars.
Drivers could use Google Glass for music, e-mail, real-time traffic info and other applications, Wessner said. "Drivers can access the Internet and infotainment applications with less distraction," he said. "Normally, you must take your eyes off of the road and look at a car console screen, but with Google Glass, your line of vision remains on the road."
However, while there are no laws yet to prohibit the use of Google Glass while driving, Mercedes says the device could be a potentially dangerous distraction.
Said Jungwirth: "We obviously don't want people using Google Glass when they drive."