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Before its release, West Virginia may regulate Google Glass while driving


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It's a ban on devices that "project visual information into the field of vision."


“We are putting a lot of thought into the design of Glass because new technologies always raise new issues," a Google spokesperson wrote to Ars.

You didn’t think that those crazy Britons were the only people lobbying against Google Glass, did you?

Late last week, a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates introduced new state legislation that would effectively ban Google Glass usage while driving. As far as we know, if West Virginia's bill were to pass, it would be the first bill in the country to address Google Glass and similar devices.

Gary Howell (R-Mineral), has appended an existing law banning the use of handheld mobile phones while driving (except for “hands-free” devices), but this now also includes a “wearable computer with a head-mounted display.”

"Last [legislative session], we were working really hard on the 'no texting and driving' [aspect], saying you couldn't use a handheld device," Howell told Ars. "I got to looking at Google Glass, and the way [our bill is] written, a headset is a hands-free device. So we're going to have people driving down the road, texting and watching videos, not paying attention to what they're doing."

The new bill defines such a device as “a computing device which is worn on the head and projects visual information into the field of vision of the wearer.”

That seems to be squarely aimed at Google Glass, which will be available to the public later this year for “less than $1,500.”

Howell added that he hadn't researched to see what other states have done or are considering.

The West Virginia Republican said he doesn't anticipate regulating the device any further in other circumstances, noting that "If I'm in a public space, I have no expected right of privacy."

He also underscored his belief in personal liberty, adding, "I wear seatbelts religiously but I don't believe in seatbelt laws."

As always, feedback is welcome.”

Google didn't respond directly to questions about the new West Virginia bill, but the company implied that Glass, or a Glass-like device, could be used to help drivers.

“We are putting a lot of thought into the design of Glass because new technologies always raise new issues," a Google spokesperson wrote to Ars. "We actually believe there is tremendous potential to improve safety on our roads and reduce accidents. As always, feedback is welcome.”

Howell added that he's read online comments where people compare Glass to a fight pilot, who can have similar heads-up displays.

"In a jet fighter you're displaying information that is critical to the operation of the vehicle," Howell countered. "Also, pilots are talking about information overload, and they received $1 million in training to fly that thing."

He noted that the bill might not pass this legislative session before it ends this week (West Virginia's House of Delegates is a part-time lawmaking body). If it doesn't, Howell would introduce it next session in early 2014. "[by then] we'll have some horror stories where people [were wearing] Glass and crashed," he said.

Still, the lawmaker isn't against feature-specific types of head-mounted displays. Howell even admitted that he's intrigued by the technology ("I would like to try it; I think it would be rather interesting"). But the potential multi-tasking capabilities of Google Glass are ultimately what make Howell see the device as possibly disruptive on the road.

"It probably would work well for [single-use navigation] applications," he said. "But the problem is that that's not all [Glass] does. If you had a dedicated GPS unit, then you're probably OK. [With Google Glass,] you can watch videos. You can get texts from people. That creates the safety problem."

Source: Ars Technica

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