Software plays cell-phone nanny

Originally published April 19, 2009
New software aims to neutralize the dangers of using mobile phones while driving, via a mechanism that prevents and controls incoming and outgoing calls.

DriveAssist will be offered next year through major wireless carriers. The technology was developed by Canadian tech company Aegis Mobility in conjunction with Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide customers will receive a discount of up to 5% for using the software.

“Research has confirmed that the distraction associated with cell phone use is much more dangerous than originally suspected,” said Aegis Mobility spokesperson David Teater.

Teater should know: His 12-year-old son Joe was killed when a driver ran a red light while distracted by a cell phone. In response, Teater became an advocate for cell phone driving reforms.

Here is the DriveAssist product description:

    The technology works like a personal assistant by informing the caller that the person they are trying to reach is driving and can’t answer the phone or text message. The service offers options to the caller, including the opportunity to leave a message, send an audible alert or request a callback. The service always allows 911 calls and offers an override feature for passengers. … An accepted list of approved callers can breakthrough to deliver an audio message to the user such as a parent wishing to contact their child driver.

DriveAssist uses GPS to determine the user’s “driving context” — as in stopped or in motion. The target customers clearly are “empowered parents” who would require their teenagers to use it, the demo video indicates. The company also cites use by employers.

Aegis is pitching the main wireless carriers, which would have to adopt the technology. The charge would be $10 to $20, a company rep told CNN.

The news broke on the first day of the Driving While Distracted symposium in Washington, D.C.

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