Even before its release, Google's augmented reality product engendered speculation and fear. Some groups fear its possible application for surveillance
. I've heard some loose talk about how this type of HUD-link is one step closer to man's incorporating computers into our biology, with some barely coherent suggestions that the eventuality will be part-human terminators walking around and stomping on puppies or something. It seems some of my fellow human beings have played Deus Ex
and decided that its some sort of future-telling device.
Still, the progress of this kind of technology marches on despite this kind of talk and its always fun to watch a specific kind of technology "grow up", as it were. Google Glass has reached its next milestone as a technology product, now that someone is facing legal consequences for wearing it
while operating a motor vehicle.
California-based Glass Explorer Cecilia Adabie is the first person to get a ticket while wearing Google’s head-mounted computer. And she won’t be the last. Abadie was driving in San Diego when an officer pulled her over for speeding. The primary infraction was for going 15 mph over the speed limit, but there was a secondary offense scrawled on the ticket: “driving w/ monitor visible to driver (Google Glass).”
Interestingly, the law being applied by the officer doesn't seem to be in any way intended for this kind of application. Instead, California Vehicle Code Section 27602
is focused on operating video screens within an automobile that are within view of the operator, such as television screens. You know those flip-down TVs in the backseats of cars? Those had started to creep into the front seat as an increasing number of Darwin-award-aspiring drivers thought they could multitask catching up on their favorite reality TV shows while commuting to work and back.
However, the law gives leave of these rules certain kinds of displays that are installed into the vehicle, such as vehicle information banks, GPS screens, and mapping screens. Google Glass has some of these applications
while also achieving the hands-free requirement that has been oft placed on mobile devices that do the same. The only real differences between what's allowed and what Google Glass is are additional applications in the headset and the fact that it is worn rather than installed onto the dash or console of the car. All of which is enough to wonder whether Abadie was breaking the law, whether the law is useful with respect to Google Glass, and whether or not this officer was acting of his or her own accord or if this is the result of an edict from on high. Unfortunately, that isn't the only thing in this case to consider.
According to Abadie’s post on Google+, Glass wasn’t functioning when she was driving (you’ve got to issue a voice command or swipe the side to get it running), but that didn’t seem to be the issue — the arresting officer said “it was blocking my view.”
Now we have a problem, because it seems to me that if the officer said that the screen in Google Glass being on wasn't a factor, I don't really understand why he or she would cite a law that is all about screens being on. And if the problem is that Google Glass in some way restricts vision (and it does, slightly, peripherally), then we're in a different ballgame that should result in a great many kinds of non-technological eyewear, sunglasses in particular, resulting in similar citations, which I've never even heard
In any case, congratulations Google Glass. You're now in a technological adolescence, celebrated by your first automobile citation. Sniff, they grow up so fast.