Mobile Technology Solutions
Mobile technology solutions
A number of companies have announced various solutions that use mobile technology to prevent texting while driving. Aegis Mobility, Illume Software, iSpeech, odbEdge, Tomahawk Systems, United Efficiency and ZoomSafer are all developing systems that work in various ways to prevent texting while driving.
For example, Illume Software's iZUP solution uses GPS to detect if you're driving on a highway. It runs in the background and comes to life when it detects you are moving faster than a preset velocity, typically 5 mph. Once it detects that the phone is moving more than the preset value, it interrupts the normal operation of the phone with the iZUP application. Subscribers cannot text or make phone calls while the car is moving. iZUP uses mapping information as well as GPS, so it can detect if the car is on a highway or, alternately, on a train or mass transit.
The iZUP Web interface provides the account holder/parent/fleet manager the ability to enter "whitelist" numbers (for example, home, mom or dad). If/when 911 is dialed, iZUP shuts down the application to allow emergency calls. The system then sends a notification to the account holder/parent/fleet manager that 911 was dialed and provides them with the exact location, including a map of where the emergency occurred. Parents will love that feature.
United Efficiency's TXTBlocker works similarly to Illume Software's iZUP; both are client-centric solutions. DriveAssist for Teens by Aegis Mobility is a network-centric solution. It detects when the car is moving, but it redirects all phone communications to a message center which explains that the caller is unavailable because they are driving. It also defers text messages.
Both ZoomSafer and iSpeech's DriveSafe.ly focus on using text-to-speech technology to read text messages to you while you're driving. Safe Driving Systems' Key2SafeDriving and obdEdge's cellcontrol use a hardware dongle in the car that communicates with the user's cell phone via Bluetooth. When the phone gets within range of the dongle in the car, key2SafeDriving turns off the use of the phone and texting.
Personal responsibility while driving
This is an early market. There are not a lot of customers using these systems. The initial focus is to prevent teens from texting while driving but, eventually, enterprises are going to demand some control over the use of their corporate asset (the phone) to help reduce their liability of the phone being part of, or the cause of, an accident by an employee. I'm sure that, eventually, mobile software and hardware to assist in driving safely will become an active part of every vehicle (from small cars to large trucks).
I close by raising a bigger problem than texting while driving: how much distraction is acceptable while driving? Or, perhaps more important, how do we keep drivers focused on their own driving (and of the cars and trucks around them) to keep the vehicle and passengers as safe as possible?
Mobile technology will provide a major contribution to making driving safer, but drivers still are still in final control of a large, fast-moving vehicle. It's what the driver does or doesn't do that determines the final outcome.
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D. is Principal Analyst of Mobile & Wireless at MobileTrax LLC. As a nationally recognized industry authority, Dr. Purdy focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in the mobile computing and wireless data communications industry in North America. Dr. Purdy is an "edge of network" analyst looking at devices, applications and services, as well as wireless connectivity to those devices. Dr. Purdy provides critical insights regarding mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld. He is author of the column Inside Mobile & Wireless that provides industry insights and is read by over 100,000 people a month.
Dr. Purdy continues to be affiliated with the venture capital industry as well. He currently is Managing Director at Yosemite Ventures. And he spent five years as a Venture Advisor for Diamondhead Ventures in Menlo Park where he identified, attracted and recommended investments in emerging companies in mobile and wireless. He has had a prior affiliation with East Peak Advisors and, subsequently, following their acquisition, with FBR Capital Markets. For more than 16 years, Dr. Purdy has been consulting, speaking, researching, networking, writing and developing state-of-the-art concepts that challenge people's mind-sets, as well as developing new ways of thinking and forecasting in the mobile computing and wireless data arenas. Often quoted, Dr. Purdy's ideas and opinions are followed closely by thought leaders in the mobile and wireless industry. He is author of three books as well.
Dr. Purdy currently is a member of the Program Advisory Board of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which produces CES, one of the largest trade shows in the world. He is a frequent moderator at CTIA conferences and GSM Mobile World Congress. He also is a member of the Board of the Atlanta Wireless Technology Forum. Dr. Purdy has a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics from University of Tennessee, a M.S. degree in Computer Science from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Exercise Physiology from Stanford University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column. If that situation happens, then I'll disclose it at that time.