Man ‘addicted to Google Glass’

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Published: Wednesday 15th October 2014 by The News Editor

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An American man has been admitted into the US Navy’s substance abuse programme after showing signs of addiction to Google Glass.

According to the doctors at the Substance Abuse and Recovery Programme (Sarp), the man, who was initially admitted for alcoholism treatment, wore Google’s smart headset for up to 18 hours a day, and reported feeling irritable and aggressive when stripped of the wearable technology.

This was diagnosed as internet addiction disorder (IAD).

The treatment the 31-year-old received has been published in the journal Addictive Behaviours, where doctors noted that “the patient has a history of a mood disorder most consistent with a substance-induced hypomania overlaying a depressive disorder, anxiety disorder with characteristics of social phobia and obsessive compulsive disorder, and severe alcohol and tobacco use disorders.”

As part of admittance to the programme, all electronic devices are taken away from patients, and the removal of Google Glass reportedly triggered a response.

Doctors observed a “notable, nearly involuntary movement of the right hand up to (the patient’s) temple area and tapping it with his forefinger”, which is the action used to activate and navigate around the device. It can also be controlled by voice command.

Google Glass has been available to buy on the search engine giant’s Explorer Program for over a year, and uses a small screen in the wearer’s peripheral vision to act as a head-up display – showing messages, map directions and other features normally reserved for a smartphone.

The aim of Glass is to give users everything on screen without the need to take their phones out of their pockets.

The company still regards the device as in “beta”, meaning it is not yet a complete consumer product, but is encouraging consumers to help test it by joining the Explorer programme and buying the device.

Andrew Doan, co-author of the paper and head of Sarp, said the patient’s extended use of the device for his work had created a neurological link between use and reward.

“There’s nothing inherently bad about Google Glass, it’s just that there is very little time between these rushes. So for an individual who’s looking to escape, for an individual who has underlying mental dysregulation, for people with a predisposition for addiction, technology provides a very convenient way to access these rushes.”

As part of his role with the US Navy, the patient used Google Glass to maintain a vehicle inventory .

Dr Doan said: “And the danger with wearable technology is that you’re allowed to be almost constantly in the closet, while appearing like you’re present in the moment.”

The man also reported that, on occasions during his treatment, his dreams involved him seeing the world through the Glass’s small screen.

Doctors confirmed it was the first case of IAD that they were aware of in relation to Google Glass. The report confirmed the patient has completed a 35-day treatment cycle and has shown reduced symptoms as a result.

Glass has already been trialled in the UK by Virgin Atlantic in its upper-class lounges, with staff using the device to access customer flight details to provide them with flight information more quickly.

Google declined to comment on the report.

Published: Wednesday 15th October 2014 by The News Editor

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