Google Glass ban looming
TROUBLE AHEAD: The UK government is trying to have Google's head-mounted Glass wearable-computer device banned before it even launches in 2014. Image: Google
LONDON, England - Britain's Department of Transport is trying to make wearing a *Google Glass while driving illegal in the UK - a year ahead of its official launch.
According to the Daily Mail, the government is concerned that the head-mounted device will distract drivers.
The British government, the Mail says, is believed to be taking 'pre-emptive' steps to put legislation in place before the gadget arrives in 2014 and working with the police to extend the scope of existing offences. Google is already delivering units to friends and family of people on its Glass Explorers programme.
A spokesman from the DfT told Stuff mgazine: "We are aware of the impending roll out of Google Glass and are in discussions with the police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving."
Using a hand-held cellphone while driving was banned in the UK in December 2003 but hands-free devices are allowed.
Some of the plans include drivers being ticketed with a fine equivalent to R900 along with three penalty points on their licence if they use a Google Glass while driving. This same penalty applies to people who use a cellphone while driving and the ban will also come under the 1988 Road Traffic Act if approved.
According to Stuff, if the plans are approved it would mean developers would not be allowed to make car apps for the device. A Google spokesperson said: "We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues."
David Bizley, technical director at the RAC, said: "Usually, common sense is the best benchmark for making a decision about whether technology can make driving safer and easier and it seems the government has taken the right course by being cautious when it comes to the use of a Google Glass.
"Existing technology already provides distraction enough. Ultimately, however, we must not forget the most common distractions in this modern age are talking to passengers, adjusting basic car controls and eating or drinking and this is unlikely to change for some time."
The Explorer programme was launched in February 2013. Applicants for the programme had to post a message on Google+ or Twitter and, if selected, were given the option to buy Explorer Editions of the headwear for about R15 000. These editions can be connected to wi-fi or linked to Android and iOS devices.
*Google Glass Explore Edition is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. It displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format that can interact with the internet via voice commands.