Where Are We With Inattentive Driving?

MADISON, Wis. – Distracted driving — especially through the growing use of smartphones in vehicles — is killing people on the road. Everyone seems to know it.

Source: State Farm Insurance

Source: State Farm Insurance

But where are the technologies designed to combat problem of inattentive –and drunk — driving? More importantly, where are regulations and government mandates to require car makers and consumers to use such technologies?

Let’s start with the technology issue.

As we surveyed a growing number of tech startups looking to break into the automotive market (see separate story: “34 Automotive Startups to Watch”), we’ve found a few companies zeroing in on technology solutions to prevent distracted and drunk driving.

Startups such as Driversiti and Nauto, with different methodologies, are developing ways to observe and record driving behavior, and send the data for analytics. In the big data era, that’s a business proposition destined to become popular with insurance companies.

Companies such as Sober Steering and Motion Intelligence have developed technologies to detect alcohol levels in drivers.

Sober Steering depends on biosensors installed in the steering wheel to detect a driver’s blood alcohol level through touch. The system sends alerts, notifying authorities when alcohol is detected.

Motion Intelligence, on the other hand, has designed a system that samples the air inside a vehicle. “Alcohol is lighter than air, so you need a sensor not on a steering wheel but above a driver,” said Marwan Hannon, president and CEO at Motion Intelligence. “Touch could be problematic if a driver wears gloves.” By periodically sampling the air, the system also prevents a driver from continuing to drink while driving, he added.

Separately, Motion Intelligence has developed an ultra sound-based system that automatically identifies a smart mobile device in the driver’s sphere, and locks the display of the smart device. Technically, Motion Intelligence’s product, called “No Comm,” allows the driver to talk, but he won’t be able to do anything else because the phone’s display is disabled, Hannon explained.

Whether such technologies are aimed at accident prevention (i.e. Motion Intelligence) or monitoring driving behavior for big data, the goal is similar. Developers recognize that cars to watch human drivers are just as important as cars watching the road.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.

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