Protecting the Roads from Google Glass
New York state is considering banning the use of Google Glass while driving because of concerns it causes drivers to be distracted, according to an article by Richard Read for The Car Connection. And New York is not the only state with such concerns, as Mike Flacy has reported for Digital Trends. Read writes:
Heck, Google Glass isn’t even officially on sale yet, and already elected officials in West Virginia and Wyoming are trying to prevent drivers from wearing it. And a woman in California received a traffic ticket for sporting Google Glass behind the wheel.
On Monday, Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz proposed a bill to ban drivers from wearing Google Glass while behind the wheel, Tom Precious reports for The Buffalo News. He quotes Ortiz:
‘You cannot be driving and try to believe you can have a Google Glass and have a normal conversation, because it’s not going to happen.
‘It’s very difficult. It’s very distracting, and I think before anyone wants to try … we need to take action before the bird gets out of the cage.’
As this blog has reported, Google Glass is a tiny computer screen in an eyepiece that perches above the wearer’s right eye. About 10,000 people (early adopters dubbed “Google Explorers”) have been trying it out since last year, and it is expected to be available to the general public later this year.
It was Ortiz who spearheaded a New York bill in 2001 to outlaw the use of handheld cellphones while driving, Gustavo Solis writes for DNAInfo.com. Ortiz hopes the new legislation will expand that existing law to encompass Google Glass as well, which he has called “extremely dangerous technology,” Solis writes.
Ortiz mentions the case of Temecula, Calif., resident Cecilia Abadie — who was ticketed last year for speeding while wearing Google Glass — as an example of why New York needs this law, Solis writes. As this blog reported, Abadie, 44, pleaded not guilty in the California case:
William Concidine, Abadie’s lawyer, told AP that his client will testify at her January trial that Google Glass was not turned on while she was driving, but activated itself when she looked up at the officer as he stood by her car window. The device, AP notes, is designed to turn on when a person tilts his or her head. Concidine said that the law the ticket is based on does not apply to Google Glass because it was written before the device was invented, [Los Angeles Times reporter Tony] Perry writes.
Richard Read writes that “Obviously, anything that can distract drivers from the task at hand seems like a very, very bad thing, and Google Glass looks like one of the biggest potential distractions yet.” He goes on to say that whether we like it or not, wearable technology is on its way. Rather than ban devices like Google Glass, Read writes, legislators should create laws to keep people safe. In addition, Read writes, Google “should create an easily activated ‘do not disturb’ feature on Glass like the one found in the current iPhone operating system, which would turn itself on when the device is being worn by a driver.”
A Google Glass app to prevent distracted driving is currently in the works. Kevin C. Tofer reports for GIGAom that DriveSafe uses the sensors inside the wearable headset to detect if a driver is falling asleep. DriveSafe will then provide a visual and audible alert if it senses the driver is nodding off, writes Trevor Mogg for Digital Trends. The app will also direct the driver to the nearest rest stop, he notes.
However, Mogg points out that the current version of DriveSafe is not yet perfected:
The as-yet unfinished version, which, it should be noted, “is not yet guaranteed to stop you from falling asleep while driving,” can currently be sideloaded onto Glass, with the team planning to submit a presumably fully reliable version to the MyGlass store once development is complete.
However, with Google, as well as various state authorities, currently going through a process of evaluation with regards to drivers’ use of Glass, it’s not sure if such an app will make it through to the store.