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Google Glasses Ban: Law Would Keep Technology Off West Virginia Roads

Image: Google Glasses Ban: Law Would Keep Technology Off West Virginia Roads Isabelle Olsson, lead designer of Google's Project Glass, talks about Google Glass at Google's annual developer conference in San Francisco on June 27, 2012.

By Michael Mullins   |   Monday, 25 Mar 2013 12:28 PM

Google Glasses, the groundbreaking eyewear with smart phone-like technology that is rumored to hit the market at the end of this year, is already facing an uphill legal battle in West Virginia, where a lawmaker is hoping to ban motorists from driving while wearing the device.

The bill, which West Virginia Legislature Republican Gary G Howell proposed on Friday, would outlaw "using a wearable computer with head mounted display" while driving, equating the technology to texting and using one's cell phone without a hands-free kit.

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In an interview with CNET, Howell, who describes himself as a libertarian, said drivers using the glasses could injure or kill pedestrians or other motorists if an incoming message pops up on a mini screen on the glasses' lens and distracts them.

"I actually like the idea of the product and I believe it is the future, but last legislature we worked long and hard on a no-texting-and-driving law," Howell told CNET.

Google Glass is a head-mounted display that allows users to access email, text messages, and the Internet. Users can also take photos and record videos. The device is operable through voice commands.

Howell said the proposed law stems from the idea that the main users of the device are young, underskilled drivers who don't need another distraction on the road.

"It is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things. They are also our most vulnerable and underskilled drivers. We heard of many crashes caused by texting and driving, most involving our youngest drivers. I see the Google Glass as an extension," he said.

Law enforcement officials and emergency services officers would be exempt from the prohibition, Howell added.

Although the proposal has garnered attention from media outlets, Howell doubts the bill will pass in the West Virginia legislature.

The smartphone-like eyewear concept was introduced last spring as part of Google's Project Glass research and development project.

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In March, the search giant invited 8,000 users to purchase a beta version of the glasses through an online application process.

The glasses, which will cost $1,500 each, will likely hit shelves before 2014, according to insiders.

Related stories:

Privacy Concerns Over Google Glass

Google’s Driverless Cars Cleared for California Roads by New Law

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