NEW YORK (
(GOOG - Get Report)
reportedly is in the process of spending millions to lobby officials and halt proposed restrictions on the use of wearable technology products. In this instance, the battle is being waged over whether Google Glass should be banned from use by drivers.
Google Glass is a wearable computer system with its monitor displayed in the corner of an eyeglass frame. It's capable of displaying maps, announcing GPS directions, answering questions, reading email and messages out loud, taking photos and recording videos with (hands-off) voice commands.
But law enforcement officials and legislators are worried than any use of Google Glass while piloting a moving vehicle has the ability to distract a driver, even for a few seconds, just long enough to cause serious accidents.
Google shares were advancing 0.20% to $1,222.41 in early New York trading on Wednesday.
The Federal government describes distracted driving as "... a dangerous epidemic on America's roadways. In 2012 alone, 3,328 were killed in distracted driving crashes."
Google Glass is not the only device being discussed as dangerous to operate in a moving vehicle. Using cellular phones and other handheld devices to place voice calls or texting while driving is already against the law in nearly 40 states.
Now with the advent of new wearable technology in the form of smartwatches ( Sony (SNE), Samsung or the rumored Apple (AAPL) iWatch), health and activity-tracking devices ( Nike (NKE), Reebok, LG, Intel (INTC)), smart clothing items and even connected rings, pendants, key chains and cuff links which can send signals to a wearer's contacts, these devices are coming of age.
Other possible distractions include adjusting in-vehicle GPS systems or entertainment systems, applying make-up and even eating or drinking. Anything that disturbs a driver's concentration is suspect. But a wearable device with a computer display right in front of a person's eyes is especially suspect.
In a public records check by Reuters, officials in Delaware, Illinois and Missouri are currently considering legislation to curb the use of wearable computer devices. Lawmakers in New York, Maryland and West Virginia have introduced similar legislation but said they have yet to be contacted by Google representatives. Reuters received no response for information from New Jersey or Wyoming officials.
Google wants lawmakers to think twice about outlawing Google Glass even before the device is offered for sale to the general public. At this point, the $1,500 Glass is a beta product available for purchase by invitation only.
Reuters reported a Illinois legislator, who introduced a Google Glass restriction bill in December, said it was clear the merchandise was heading for the broader public. State Sen. Ira Silverstein said he recently met with Google lobbyists trying to "kill" the bill.
For now, Google advises current Glass testers to make sure they abide by state laws which limit use of mobile devices while driving.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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