Calif. driver's Google Glass court win likely to be first fight of many as tech outpaces law
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A California woman believed to be the first person cited for wearing Google Glass while driving won her case, but legal experts say it marks only the beginning of what they predict will be numerous court battles fought in the gap between today's laws and fast-arriving technology.
Cecilia Abadie's was found not guilty Thursday after being cited for wearing the computer-in-eyeglass device while driving because San Diego County Traffic Court Commissioner John Blair said there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the device was operating while she was driving.
Abadie was cited under a code banning operation of a video or TV screen at the front of a vehicle that is moving. Blair said the code's language is broad enough that it could also apply to Google Glass if there were evidence the device was activated while the motorist was driving.
But Abadie, who wore the device around her neck during her trial, insisted afterward that the screen is above her line of vision, its functions can be activated with her voice or a wink, and it is not a distraction even when activated.
From driverless cars to wearable devices that can enhance human functions, Wadhwa said, there are a host of legal questions to be answered. For example, when a Google-operated car is on the road and hits someone, who is responsible — the passenger, car manufacturer or software developer?
Her attorney, William Concidine, said anything can be a distraction, such as when drivers turn the radio dials to change stations. He wants lawmakers to rule that Google Glass can be used safely while someone drives, so codes like the one used to cite his client are not left up to the interpretation of individual judges.
"I believe there is an information gap," he said.
The lightweight frames are equipped with a hidden camera and tiny display that responds to voice commands. The technology can be used to do things such as check email, learn background about something the wearer is looking at, or to get driving directions.
After the ruling, Google said it has warned early Glass adopters to exercise caution.
"Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it," Google said in a statement. "Explorers should always use Glass responsibly and put their safety and the safety of others first."