At least six states may bar motorists from wearing Google Glass while driving. Bills in West Virginia, Illinois and New Jersey seek to include Google Glass among hand-held mobile phones and other gadgets barred from use while driving. In New York, there is a measure that renders its illegal for motorists to wear Google Glass until the motor vehicle department recommends how a ban could be enforced.
Google has been investing in Glass -- eyewear device that can access the Internet and take photos with a blink -- as it gambles that consumers will shift to wireless devices that allow them to takes photos, check e-mail or listen to music without using smartphones or traditional computers.
The proposed bills may affect Glass sales although research indicates that it is less distracting than smartphones and could even help drivers avoid hazards.
"These ban bills could limit the marketability of Google Glass," remarked Richard Bennett, a visiting scholar at American Enterprise Institute who co-invented Wi-Fi. "Driving is certainly one of the premier applications for Glass." Google has tapped lobbyists in states including Wyoming and Delaware. While fighting those bills, application developers have already created programs for using Glass while driving that could monitor speed and provide directions as well as detect fatigue -- while a driver keeps his focus on the road.
Most of the bills categorize Google Glass as similar to texting while driving, which has been the focus of a campaign by the US Transportation Department to trim down distractions in the car. Forty-one states ban texting behind the wheel while 12 states bar hand-held mobile phone use. Hands-free calling and texting, however, are usually allowed.
Interestingly, Hyundai Motor Co. announced last month that owners of the new Hyundai Genesis sedan could use Google Glass, not for actual driving, but for “pre-drive” operations such remote starts and route planning.
Owners of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis will be offered with an app designed for Glass and other “wearable” electronic devices. This app will serve an extension of Hyundai’s current Blue Link in-car system that provides diagnostic and maintenance services.
Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson remarked that the Glass application is only “for pre-drive operations,” as its goal is to make the drive less stressful when the driver gets into the car to start a trip. Google has released the technical specifications for Glass in April 2013 to allow software developers to create apps for the Web-enabled glasses. Hyundai demonstrated the Glass-enabled system before the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.