California woman who drove with Google Glass beats traffic ticket at trial

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A California woman ticketed for driving while wearing Google Glass, a tiny computer mounted on an eyeglass frame, had her citation dismissed on Thursday by a San Diego court commissioner who said he found no proof the device was operating at the time.

The case, which raises new questions about distracted driving, made headlines when technology entrepreneur Cecilia Abadie, one of thousands of people testing the device for Google Inc, was stopped for speeding in October by the California Highway Patrol on Interstate 15 in San Diego.

The officer then gave her a second citation for using a "monitor" in her car while driving, in what the Highway Patrol said was a violation of state law.

Abadie is apparently the first person cited for wearing Google Glass while driving.

Court Commissioner John Blair said he was dismissing the citation against Abadie, 44, on the grounds of a lack of proof that her Google Glass was turned on at the time. "There is no testimony it was operating or in use while Ms. Abadie was driving," he said during the hearing.

Blair also dismissed a speeding ticket against Abadie, because an expert did not appear to testify to the calibration on the officer's speedometer. Blair said there was a lack of evidence to establish Abadie's driving speed.

After the ruling, Abadie, an entrepreneur who works independently to develop Web and mobile apps, said outside the court that Google Glass does not give drivers any "blind spot."

"I believe we have to start experimenting with devices like this," Abadie told reporters. "As a hands-free device it is safer than a cell phone."

Blair had said during the hearing that Google Glass "falls within the purview and intent" of the ban on driving with a monitor enacted by the California legislature.

Abadie, a Southern California resident, gained widespread attention for her cause in October when she quickly posted the news of her ticket on social media.

"A cop just stopped me and gave me a ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving!" she wrote on the Google Plus social networking site.

The device, which projects a small screen in the corner of a wearer's eye, is expected to become a major catalyst for what many believe to be the next big trend in mobile, wearable computing devices.

Developers are already crafting apps to try to position themselves if the devices, which can be voice- or motion-activated, prove popular with consumers. Abadie said she is developing such apps, and she said she transmitted live video of herself talking to reporters outside court on Thursday.

Google Glass is not yet available for sale to the general public, although the company is testing the product with the help of thousands of so-called "Explorers" who have been given early access to the technology.

At the end of December, Google made the device available to select developers, and it is expected to come to market later this year.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Ken Wills)