By Gregory B. Hladky
5:10 PM EDT, May 21, 2013
Google Glass may be the latest in "wearable" computing-geek paraphernalia, but they've already been banned from Las Vegas casinos, are generating debate about bad driving in West Virginia, and could see similar problems in Connecticut.
Not bad for a product that isn't even on the market yet.
The casino angle to Google's latest high-tech innovation involves the tiny camera embedded in the wearer's computerized eyeglass frame. The idea that so many folks apparently think is so cool is that you can take a photo with a word or even with just a blink of your eye.
Which is why they're likely to be banned from the gambling floors of Connecticut's Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort casinos.
"We would anticipate Google Glass not being permitted on the casino floor," says Cathy Soper, a spokeswoman for the Mohegan Sun. "Computers are not allowed on the gaming floor... and they are not to be used at the slot machines," she adds.
Foxwoods spokeswoman Dale Wolbrink says her organization hasn't yet set a policy on the new wearable technology because they haven't yet seen any of the fancy-ass glasses. "We'll take a look at them when they become public and make a decision then," she explains.
But she noted that the ability of the Google gizmo to take pictures is going to be a major problem at Foxwoods. "We don't allow cameras on the casino floor," Wolbrink points out.
In case you were wondering about that now-not-so-cutting-edge piece of picture-taking technology you probably have in your pocket right now, Soper explains that those aren't allowed either. "Our regulations also do not permit cell phones to be used at any of the tables," she says.
The concern of casino operators is that computers and cameras could be used by tech-savvy cheaters to operate scams like card-counting, which would cut into casinos' profits.
Google Glass is basically a set of frames that include a miniature computer and camera. The wearer is able to see a computer readout on the upper part of the clear lens, which advocates say will still allow you to drive or perform other tasks without your direct line of sight being distorted or obscured.
So far, Google Glass has only been sent out as test versions to some 2,000 "developers." Another 8,000 pairs of the high-tech geek glasses are expected to be sent out to folks selected by Google to help test the things.
The idea of an unobtrusive, "wearable" computer able to take photos and put them up on the Internet almost instantly is creating all sorts of waves. Techno-faddies are aching to try them out, while others worry that this latest advance could pose new threats to personal privacy and our highway health.
A Republican lawmaker in West Virginia named Gary Howell is worried that Google Glass wearers could be just as distracted by their computerized displays while driving as people texting. He's proposed legislation to ban drivers in his state from wearing them at the wheel. At the moment, West Virginia allows the use of "hands free" cell phone technology, which would appear to make Google Glass legal.
Connecticut lawmakers appear to be a bit behind the Google Glass technological curve.
"It's such a new product it hasn't gotten on our radar screens yet," says state Sen. Andrew M. Maynard, a Stonington Democrat who is cochairman of the General Assembly's Transportation Committee. "I haven't seen or tried on a pair, so I don't want to prejudge it," he adds.
On the other hand, Maynard says Google Glass "is certainly something we would want to look at... I can see some potential for distracted driving."
Just a couple of years ago, lawmakers here upped the fines for using a handheld cell phone or texting while driving. The first time you get caught doing that now could cost you $125, and multiple offenses could eventually put the fine to a top mark of $400 per offense.
While Google officials say they are aware of concerns about how their new creation could invade others' privacy, some technoids are pushing ahead with their own improvements.
One entrepreneur has come out with his own adaptation that will do away with the need for a Google Glass wearer to speak or make a gesture in order to take a photo. The "Winky" app would allow you to take a shot with a blink of your eye.
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