Wednesday, October 30, 2013
A local woman who describes herself as a "geek," a "transhumanist" and a "glass pioneer" might have made history Tuesday night. She received what appears to be the first traffic violation for driving while wearing Google Glass.
Cecilia Abadie was initially stopped for speeding. But a CHP officer also wrote her up for "driving w/ monitor visible to driver (Google Glass)." The tech-savvy cop cited a section of the California vehicle code prohibiting motorists from watching TV while driving. Or, in more precise terms:
A person shall not drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other similar means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.
On her Google+ page, Abadie claims her Glass was turned off when the officer pulled her over. Many commenters on Abadie's post objected to the ticket, saying Google Glass isn't a television or video monitor.
Google Glass is a kind of monitor, though. The high-tech spectacles position a small transparent screen at the periphery of the wearer's field of view. Google Glass displays incoming calls, calendar alerts and the like. Users can command it to do things like send messages, provide turn-by-turn directions or capture video.
But it's true that Google Glass is a far cry from television. And Matt McGee of Glass Almanac points out that many of its functions are protected by the very law cited in Abadie's ticket:
You can drive with equipment that includes “a mapping display” and/or “a global positioning display” — both of which describe Glass. There’s another exception that seems like it would apply to Glass, too — namely that it’s OK if the equipment “has an interlock device that, when the motor vehicle is driven, disables the equipment for all uses except as a visual display” in the cases such as mapping and GPS.
In an FAQ on cars and Glass, Google dissuades Glass wearers from using the device in any way that would "hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road."
Google's polarizing accessory is only available to developers and testers for now, and Abadie is one of the intrepid few attempting to incorporate it into all aspects of her daily life. This little run-in with the law isn't likely to deter her from wearing Glass during every waking moment.
"For almost every minute of the last four months, I've been an Explorer," Abadie said last month at a TedX event. "I hiked mountains, I went to the ocean and I saw my family and the whole world through new eyes. All of this, because I became a Google Glass Explorer."
Watch the rest of Abadie's TedX talk below: