Driving with headphones on or earbuds in is illegal in many places, but even in the areas in which it’s not illegal, it’s a bad idea because it destroys your sense of spatial awareness. Ford decided that it was curious about how bad an idea it is, so it put together a study in Europe to quantify that, and announced the results of that study on Wednesday.
The study uses an app that plays “8D” spatial audio, which seeks to create realism through precisely controlled panning and equalization. This 8D audio is used in conjunction with a virtual-reality street to create sound cues that study participants were then asked to identify — for example, they were asked if they could hear an ambulance approaching from behind.
The cues were played for people without headphones and for people with headphones on playing music. It was found that the people listening to music via headphones were on average 4.2 seconds slower to identify cues than those without headphones. It may not seem like it, but 4.2 seconds is practically an eternity when you’re talking about the difference between crashing into someone on a bicycle and avoiding them.
Read the article at MSN.