Serendipity in Simulation: Building Environmentally Valid Driving Distraction Evaluations of Google Glass™ and an Android™ Smartphone

In evaluating Google Glass, our team created a novel dependent variable collection strategy in which time-synchronized devices reported time-stamps for each user action, permitting precise temporal targeting of events in a simulated driving task.  This device status reporting (DSR) trigger system was used to expose vehicle operators in the midst of reading an incoming text message to a consistent, controlled worst-case scenario roadway event: a braking lead vehicle. We argue that such strict control over the temporal delivery of the treatment effect provides results which are more environmentally valid and interpretable than strategies which rely on high base rates. After establishing the theoretical need we provide a technical description of a working DSR system, discuss associated technical and methodological concerns, and look to future utility and implications.

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