Wearers of augmented reality (AR) glasses might feel like Tony Stark, the fictional character created by Stan Lee who transforms into the superhero Iron Man. As Iron Man, Tony Stark had some legal issues to contend with. Participants in the Google Glass Explorers Program, initiated in 2013 in the US to develop and beta test the AR glasses, have recently had some run-ins with the law, as well.
Most recently, a network engineer wearing Google Glass in a Columbus, Ohio, movie theatre was detained by Homeland Security while viewing the movie Jack Ryan and was interrogated for four hours. The detainee, a Balkan immigrant pursuing US citizenship after graduating from Ohio State University, had had his Google Glass device fitted with prescription lenses and wore them constantly. The 35-year-old Glass wearer chose to remain anonymous.
The Glass wearer told The Gadgeteer: “About an hour into the movie, a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says ´follow me outside immediately.’ It was quite embarrassing and outside of the theatre there were about 5-10 cops and mall cops.” The agents accused him of recording the movie, though the device was off.
In San Diego, Google Glass beta tester Cecilia Abadie received a ticket in October 2013 for driving while wearing the device. According to the driver, the officer claimed that the device was blocking her view. Following the incident Abadie posted her reaction on Google+: “A cop just stopped me and gave me a ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving!” Is #GoogleGlass [illegal] while driving or is this cop wrong???” A local judge recently found Abadie not guilty.
AR promises to become a powerful marketing tool in the near future. Some brands, like Ikea and Phillips, are experimenting with delivering their content through mobile apps that harness geolocational info to enhance shopping with instant pricing data, offers, and reviews. Governmental regulators have been scrambling to anticipate potential consumer privacy issues.
In the case of AR glasses, like Google Glass and the highly anticipated “space glasses” coming this summer from MetaPro, simply wearing the devices in public is creating some legal hurdles.