Should The Government Ban The Use Of Google Glass While Driving?

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As previously reported, West Virginia is already looking to outlaw the use of devices like Google Glass while driving. Other states are likely to follow.

Do you think Google Glass and similar devices will create new road hazards and lead to highway fatalities? Should they be banned from using while driving? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Google Glass coming to market is getting closer to reality. In fact, this week, Google picked winners of the #ifihadglass contest, who will be able to get the device. Eventually, anyone with the money to do so will be able to get their hands on one if they so choose.

But so far, the device has not even become available for people to buy yet. Should the use of the device while driving really be outlawed before we even have a chance to really see how it can be used?

H.B. 3057 was recently introduced in the West Virginia legislature. It would add existing traffic safety rules in the state, specifically including a ban on “using a wearable computer with head mounted display”. This is described as “a computing device which is worn on the head and projects visual information into the field of vision of the wearer.”

The bill doesn’t single out Google Glass, of course (there will be plenty of competing devices), but it is a response to Google’s much hyped device. The bill’s authors see the amendment as an extension of not texting while driving. It’s understandable that they would want to prevent more deaths from reckless driving before they occur. However, an outright ban on the device could potentially prevent lives from being saved too.

You have to take into account that at this point we have no idea what these devices are really capable of, and it’s highly likely that developers will create applications that actually enhance safety. Consider this talk from one of the Google Glass engineers, who was actually talking about this kind of technology as it pertains to contact lenses (but it still applies here).

During his presentation, he outlines possibilities for the future, which include several types of vision improvement, such as “super vision,” night vision and multi-focal electronic lenses. In other words, it’s possible that at some point, devices like Google Glass could actually be used to help the vision impaired see better and more clearly. It’s possible that they can enhance anyone’s vision at night. Obviously, any of these scenarios could actually prevent auto accidents.

But that’s all just speculation for a possible future. The point is, do we want to have these devices banned before we really know what they can do? For that matter, if the technology makes it to contact lens form, how would any law ever be enforced?

It’s also worth considering what Google Glass is already capable of today, and that is, for one, shifting the focus from devices that require you to look away from the road. You’re taking your eyes off the road when you look at your phone, or even your dashboard/console. With Google Glass, you’re not.

As Matt Peckham at Time says, “West Virginia already bans texting while driving or using a phone without a hands-free device…But isn’t Google Glass also a hands-free device for your eyes? A way of potentially freeing you from looking at things that might otherwise take your eyes completely off the road, whether glancing at your phone to check the time or answer a call or scan the weather?”

It’s entirely possible that Google Glass will only evolve to become even less of a distraction over time. Google’s Matt Cutts put out a video this week talking about where he sees Google in ten years, and among his ideas was a theory about a “brain interface”.

“In theory there could be a brain interface so you could be having a dialogue where some of it is audible and some of it is not,” he contemplates.

Can you think while driving?

This is just futuristic speculation and imagination at this point, but in reality, it’s not that far fetched of a scenario. Ten years is a hell of a long time, especially in Google time. Ten years ago, Google was just getting Gmail off the ground. Now, they have driverless cars.

Gary Howell, one of the bill’s authors, told CNET, “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. 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.”

Interestingly enough, a new survey from AT&T, which looked at 1,000 commuters, showed that 49% of adults admit to texting while driving, compared to 43% of teens in another study from the company.

Of course, none of this really proves anything. I, for one, have not had the pleasure of trying one of the devices on, much less driving while wearing and operating one. I can’t speak from first-hand experience. It’s entirely possible that it does create distractions, and maybe there is valid argument for a ban. But banning the devices this early seems like a snap judgment that doesn’t take into consideration all possible factors.

Let’s not forget that Google started creating self-driving cars to reduce the number of auto accidents and make the roads safer. Some states like the idea of these being legal. Of course, driverless cars are more accident prone when humans are involved.

What do you think? Would a ban on Google Glass while driving be premature, or do you think it really is in the best interest of public safety? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Lead image: Google co-founder Sergey Brin driving while automatically snapping photos from Google Glass

March 31st 2013 Technology

Is A ‘Just Looking’ Fee A Smart Business Decision?

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Brick and mortar stores face a lot of challenges in competing with the Internet. We’re living in an age where you can get just about anything you want from somewhere on the web, and even better you can easily browse multiple sellers, and find the best price. It’s been a great thing for consumers, but not for all businesses. To complicate things even further for brick and mortars, the rise of smartphones has made it easy for consumers to walk into a store, browse the inventory, and comparison shop right from within. Stores risk losing customers to competitors before they’ve even left the store.

Is it smart for businesses to charge customers for browsing without buying? Let us know what you think in the comments.

This isn’t necessarily a new topic, but it’s drawn a lot of attention this week, thanks to one store’s policy and one person’s contribution to reddit.

Celiac Supplies, a Brisbane, Australia area-based gluten free shop, has become a viral phenomenon, but not in a good way. As previously reported, reddit user BarrettFox posted an image of a sign the store posted on its front door, and it quickly became the subject of a great deal of mockery on and off the social news site.

The sign reads:

Dear Customers,

As of the first of February, this store will be charging people a $5 fee per person for “just looking.”

The $5 fee will be deducted when goods are purchased.

Why has this come about?

There has been high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere. These people are unaware our prices are almost the same as the other stores plus we have products simply not available anywhere else.

This policy is in line with many other clothing, shoe and electronic stores who are also facing the same issue.

BarrettFox’s image came under the title, “When they open tomorrow I’m going to see how many times I can walk in and out without paying the toll.”

Comments from redditors include:

“This store seems desperate to go out of business.”

“The thing that confuses me is: How is this allowable? Someone walks in, looks around, decides not to buy anything and starts to leave. They berate them until they pay? What if they hadn’t noticed the $5 fee sign and don’t have any money on them? If it was me, I’d say “Screw you.” and not give them a dime, walk out and refuse them any future business. They are asking to go out of business.”

“I don’t have my glasses. Does it say ‘Going Out of Business Sale’?”

“‘Introducing the new loyalty program! Every $100 you spend you get 20% off your next purchase’ Fixed that. I’m a small retailer, I have to compete with the internet, but many of my customers come to me because I make my store a positive and enjoyable experience. Most of them don’t even want a discount.”

Some, on the other hand, see where the store is coming from. One user commented:

“Eh, I’ve been to a store before and then gone to Amazon to see their price. Amazon had a higher price but it was only by a buck or two, certainly more even after tax was applied. But I was already home, and it’d be delivered to my door, so I just ordered through Amazon.
Now I have a smartphone and just check the price in the store. Also, now Amazon charges tax.”

The store’s owner assumes people are leaving without buying anything and going to buy products at a supermarket chain or online. AdelaideNow reports:

Owner of the gluten free produce store, Georgina, says she resorted to putting up the sign after spending hours each week giving advice to people who leave empty-handed.

About 60 people a week would go into the store, ask questions and then buy the same or similar product at a supermarket chain or online.

“I’ve had a gut full of working and not getting paid,” Georgina, who didn’t want her surname published, told AAP.

“I’m not here to dispense a charity service for Coles and Woolworths to make more money.

She has reportedly turned some people away, but has had some willing to pay the toll.

Perhaps one alternative for the store would be to sell products online (they have a site, just apparently not one that sells products), and advertise that site on a sign on the door.

By the way, this story comes from reddit’s WTF section.

A recent Google study found that 51% of shoppers would esearch online and then visit a store to purchase, while 17% would visit a store first and then purchase online. Another 32% would research online, visit a store to view a product, then return online to purchase it.

“In short, the shopper’s journey looks less like a funnel and more like a flight map, and the lines between online and offline shopping experiences are blurring,” said Google Retail Industry Director Todd Pollak.

Do you think it’s a good idea to charge potential customers for browsing without buying? Let us know what you think in the comments.

March 31st 2013 Uncategorized

Just the good parts

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“I want to be an actress, but I don’t want to go on auditions.”

“I want to play varsity sports, but I need to be sure I’m going to make the team.”

“It’s important to sell this great new service, but I’m not willing to deal with rejection.”

You don’t get to just do the good parts. Of course. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have chosen this path if it was guaranteed to work every time.

The implication of this might surprise you, though: when the tough parts come along, the rejection and the slog and the unfair bad breaks, it makes sense to welcome them. Instead of cursing or fearing the down moments, understand that they mean you’ve chosen reality, not some unsustainable fantasy. It means that you’re doing worthwhile, difficult work, not merely amusing yourself.

The very thing you’re seeking only exists because of the whole. We can’t deny the difficult parts, we have no choice but to embrace them.

March 31st 2013 Uncategorized

Add A Detachable Microphone To Your Over-the-Ear Headphones

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Whether you’re digging into a long gaming session or just looking for a better way to video chat on your PC, a headset with a microphone can go a long way. If you don’t want to plop down the cash for one, you can add one to your existing over-the-ear headphones yourself. More »

 

March 31st 2013 Uncategorized

Comic for March 31, 2013

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March 31st 2013 Uncategorized

Create A Funnel With Aluminum Foil

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If you need to fill a narrow-necked container, but don’t keep a funnel stocked around the kitchen, it’s easy to make your own out of aluminium foil. More »

 

March 31st 2013 Uncategorized

This Week In Smartphone Software Updates: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone

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Wondering when the sweet new versions of Android will land on your device? You’re in luck: each week, Gizmodo Australia will take you through all of the handset updates currently being tested on Australian mobile networks (Optus, Telstra and Vodafone), and tell you when you can expect them on your device. More »

 

March 31st 2013 Uncategorized

Swish Navigates SFTP Connections In Windows Explorer

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Windows: Opening up a dedicated FTP client just to find a file or two is a pain. Swish integrates your SFTP connections directly into Windows Explorer to save you the trouble. More »

 

March 31st 2013 Uncategorized

Leaked Internet Explorer 11 Features Rudimentary WebGL Support

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Microsoft’s adoption of HTML5/JavaScript for Windows 8 app development was a big step for the company, but seeing that hardware-acceleration will be a huge part of the web’s future, Internet Explorer’s lack of support for WebGL, the browser implementation of OpenGL, is still a major stumbling block. This could change, however, going by the latest leaked build of IE11. More »

 

March 31st 2013 Uncategorized

Success Is A Squiggly Line

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Even though we often know better, we tend to look at success as a straight line going from a low point A to a much higher point B. As comedian Dimitri Martin points out in the sketch above, success is much more of a squiggly line than a straight one. More »

 

March 31st 2013 Uncategorized