Google released its highly anticipated optical head-mounted display (OMHD) to the general public earlier this year. Dubbed Google Glass, it offers a visual smartphone-like display that's controlled through voice commands. Unlike smartphones, however, there's a whirlwind of controversy swirling over its potential legal quandaries.
Law enforcement agencies from the east coast to the west have been cracking down on texting while driving, claiming it's six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. So, how will police categorize Google Glass? Drivers wearing Google Glass aren't texting – not in the traditional sense at least – but they could still be reading email, sending messages via voice-to-
text protocol, or browsing the web. This would inherently increase the risk of an accident and attract the eyes of police who are eager to hand out tickets.
In October 2013, product manager from Southern California Cecilia Abadie was pulled over by the Highway Patrol for allegedly speeding. When the officer walked to Abadie's window, he noticed she was wearing Google Glass, at which point he cited her for speeding and Californias vehicle code 27602, a law that prohibits drivers from operating a video display in the head rest.
Abadie's case was later thrown out in court by Commissioner John Blair, who said there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove Google Glass was even turned on at the time of the citation.
Google wrote the following on its FAQ page:
As you probably know, most states have passed laws limiting the use of mobile devices while driving any motor vehicle, and most states post those rules on their department of motor vehicles websites. Read up and follow the law! Above all, even when you're following the law, don't hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road. The same goes for bicycling: whether or not any laws limit your use of Glass, always be careful.
Delaware, West Virginia and New Jersey have proposed laws that specifically ban the use of Google Glass while driving.
Another legal quandary of Google Glass is the possibility for movie-goers to record new films in 720p resolution via the built-in camera on their device. This footage could then be illegally uploaded to the Internet, where people are free to download it at no charge. It may sound far-fetched, but some users have already begun pirating new movies with their Google Glass.
The UK's Cinema Exhibitors' Association issued a blanket ban on Google Glass just one week after the device was released, saying customers are prohibited from wearing Google Glass in the auditoriums, regardless of whether a film is playing. Several film theater organizations in on our side of the pond have passed similar measures prohibiting movie-goers from wearing the device.
Google Glass isn't the only wearable electronic that's capable of recording movie, nor will it be the last. If movie theaters are adamant on banning Google Glass, how will they handle the Mountain View company's next project: contact lenses with built-in video cameras?
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