New Google Glass app will help you find EV charging stations... if that's legal

Google Glass Driving Legal Illegal
CC BY 2.0 Robert Scoble

Google Glass is about to get a new app from SemaConnect, "one of the largest producers of commercial grade electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in North America," that will help electric vehicle drivers find charging stations. But will it be legal to use while driving?

The apps, submitted for approval this month, shows charging stations within 20 miles of your location and directs you to the closest one. You get turn-by-turn navigation and can even initiate a charging session using Google Glass. This adds to EV charging options via SemaConnect's smart card, toll free number, website, and PlugShare app for iPhone and Android.

However, whether or not it will be legal to use this app while driving is up in the air in many places, while it's considered illegal in some states. Naturally, this Google Glass app is unlikely to be of much use to anyone if it can't be used while driving.

An Illinois state senator just introduced a bill that would make driving with Google Glass on illegal in Illinois. Similar bills have been introduced in 7 other states.

That's not to say Google agrees with the idea or is willing to sit by and see what is decided. "Google has hired Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former political director, John Borovicka, to try to defeat the measure," Streetsblog USA notes. "Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it," a statement fro Google contends. "We find that when people have first-hand experience using Glass over several days, many feel less, not more distracted by technology." Nonetheless, the Illinois state senator, Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), has noted that a letter from Google told him they were willing to work with him on the issue.

In some places, such as California, it is already deemed illegal. Last year, a woman was given a ticket in San Diego for driving with Glass on. When she was pulled over, she was shocked to hear that doing so was illegal and she said to the officer, "But it's not illegal, right?" He indicated that it was.

California Vehicle Code 27602 states: "A person shall not drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen ... is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver's seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle." That doesn't apply to video screens of maps, GPS data, backup cameras, and sensors, but who's to know how you're using Google Glass?

In the end, this woman's ticket was actually dismissed because, the judge said, no one could be sure if she was using Google Glass at the time or not.

Whether or not Google Glass actually leads to distracted driving is hotly debated. I have a hard time seeing how it wouldn't. The temptation and ease of doing other things while driving seems too enticing. TreeHuggers seem to agree, but not by a landslide.

We'll have to see where this issue leads. In the meantime, if you happen to have Google Glass and an electric vehicle, you are about to get perhaps the easiest option yet for navigating to an EV charging station. Of course, if you own a Tesla, you already have a Glass app for that and many other things.