The ethical and social concerns over user activity with Google Glass have naturally risen as more users in the U.S. adopt the product, and bring it out into public spaces. A main concern for state regulators is the safety issue at hand for driving while wearing the internet-connected glasses — obviously at unease with the fact that users will be interacting with the web instead of focused on driving. Several states have begun to explore the regulation of Google Glass — particularly with operating vehicles — but Google has decided to respond in at least three states.
VISUAL CONTEXT: GOOGLE GLASS’S START
The internet company has sent lobbyists to Illinois, Delaware, and Missouri to try to convince lawmakers that there is no inherent danger for users driving while wearing Google Glass, but Google’s main argument is a little weak: Reuters reports that the company’s message to legislators is that overarching restrictions would be pointless because Google Glass is not yet widely available. Without a real technological explanation for why Glass does not threaten the focus of a driver, it seems as though the device could occupy the attention of a driver similarly to how a smartphone does. Regulators in the other states including New York, Maryland, and West Virginia have said they have not been contacted by Google.
This conflict over restrictions on Google Glass reflect a broader, future problem that regulators will have as wearable technology itself proliferates. Google Glass is just one of many internet-connected devices that is coming to market in a more widespread manner as the internet of things takes off, which is why Google’s argument against regulation is lack of widespread adoption seems weak as the company is obviously hoping for more widespread adoption. Its argument is dependent on Google Glass not taking off as a mainstream product — which sounds suspiciously like Google itself does not think Glass will be so successful. As smart watches and other wearable devices slowly make their way into the hands of consumers, statewide, and perhaps even nationwide regulations will necessarily be a concern for their operation.