Monday, May 12, 2014

Patent to stop texting while driving?

There was one recently published patent that describes a "driver handheld computing device lock-out" system that detects when a user is driving using on-board sensors or pulling information from the car when connected, blocking the use of text messaging or using other smartphone functions from the person driving. The intention is noble but when I first read that, the first thought that came into mind is whether does it work as intended.

The reason is because I'm not sure how the on-board sensors, be it from the phone or the car, can achieve the purpose to stop people from texting or using smartphone functions when a person driving.

Let's start with the phone on-board sensors. Sure, the phone can detect if you're moving. However, how does the phone knows if you're texting while waiting for a traffic light, or while you're stuck in a jam? I can imagine feeling myself very frustrated if I am unable to text or use my smartphone if I am stuck in a jam for hours. What happens if the phone on-board sensors get confused by the cellular towers? Ever found the phone indicating that you're in a middle of a housing estate even though you're on the road?

Next is the car on-board sensors. To-date, I do not think there is a on-board car sensor that does image recognition. Most of the sensors I believe is more on the connection to the car electronics and the sensors surrounding the car. This will be useful to determine if the car is moving or is at rest. I hope it stops at that because doing more than that may cause your phone to disable your smartphone features for no particular reason.

In fact, in my person opinion, I feel that this feature will go the way of Siri, the voice recognition smartphone feature that most will seldom use. Just imagine your phone disabling your smartphone features when you're on the train ride just because you forgot to disable this feature.

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