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App Can Prevent Users From Texting While Driving

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the I-was-just-context-switching dept.

Cellphones 144

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Scientific American reports that while laws prohibit texting while driving in many states, many people still find it impossible to resist. Now researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are studying how software on a cell phone could analyze keystrokes to determine when that phone's user is distracted while composing and sending text messages and combined with GPS and other data, determine when a texter is behind the wheel and shut off texting functions automatically. Such a feature could take the form of a mobile app for any phone—independent of the manufacturer, operating system and wireless service provider. The researchers programmed a cell phone to log keystroke dynamics using a common operating system as a means of determining if an individual was texting while driving, in particular, 'keystroke entropy.' (PDF) when keys are struck at irregular intervals, as an indicator that the test subjects' attention is divided between texting and driving. 'The things that we are measuring, the data never needs to leave the person's phone,' says Mike Watkins, developer of the algorithm. 'But as a parent, you could require your child to have something like this on their cellphone as a way to protect them. Employers could use it as a way to mitigate their liability for accidents on work time. Even insurance companies could use it.'"

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If it works... (2)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122881)

If it really does work, why not just put it on all call phones ant make it so that it can not be disabled.

Seriously, the number of people that I see looking at their crotch while driving is staggering.

Re:If it works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41122917)

What if user is trying to return an important message during a meeting without it being obvious.. I would think the erratic typing would be similar. Or if the user has a physical disability that makes texting difficult for them... Or an elderly person that has trouble texting...

Only while in motion (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122981)

The article says the error rate would be combined with GPS. Only erratic typing while driving or while riding public transit would result in a block.

Re:Only while in motion (3, Interesting)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123043)

The article says the error rate would be combined with GPS. Only erratic typing while driving or while riding public transit would result in a block.

Or erratic typing while on a car's passenger seat, Anyway, preventing erratic typing while on public transport seems like a rather large problem to me.

Re:Only while in motion (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123275)

The article says the error rate would be combined with GPS. Only erratic typing while driving or while riding public transit would result in a block.

Or erratic typing while on a car's passenger seat, Anyway, preventing erratic typing while on public transport seems like a rather large problem to me.

When reading the linked article, (I know, this is slashdot), they seem to suggest that the typing patterns and cadences are unique to driving:

After evaluating the sensitivity of the keystroke entropy indicator against the number of keystrokes recorded, the researchers found they could accurately and relatively quickly identify when a test subject had been both texting and operating the simulator. They found normal texting took on more rhythmic patterns.

I suspect that even on the bus sitting next to some random dodgy character you would type in a more normal cadence, even allowing for a bumpy ride. You could probably type a whole sentence in your normal text-speak without more than one or two breaks in rhythm as opposed to pauses mid-word.

So it might well be able to distinguish bus and passenger seat users from drivers.

I could see that a passenger engaged in watching the scenery might actually text as distractedly as a driver, but they have a choice of texting or watching, and could modify their texting style to "git er done" in one go, which is an option the driver doesn't rationally have. (To the degree that rationality enters the discussion).

Re:Only while in motion (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123357)

Thanks for the quote, obviously I did not read TFA :) From the quote I cannot really tell if they were only comparing texting while driving to "normal" texting - though it looks like that to me -, or if they also compared writing an annoying but urgent text while in an interesting conversation, or watching the scenery, as you wrote. It's possible that the recognition is really accurate, but it would not surprise if it could not reliably distinguish me texting while driving or me texting my mom about the dinner arrangements for my visit while reading an interesting book. And no, I would not accept my phone deciding for me that I have to focus on either texting or the scenery.

Re:Only while in motion (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123457)

Since it combines GPS motion detection, you would have to be reading that interesting book on the train/bus/car passenger seat.

But even then, you don't read a little, text a few characters, read a little more, then type a couple characters. You stop reading, text the message, then pick up the book again. They measure for erratic intervals between keystrokes while in motion.

I suspect there would be a lot of false positives for people texting while walking unless they restricted it to speeds above 3mph.

Re:Only while in motion (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123507)

Since it combines GPS motion detection, you would have to be reading that interesting book on the train/bus/car passenger seat.

Sorry, I don't understand what you are saying. A train passenger seat, what's that? And I doubt the GPS can tell if I'm on the car's driver's seat or passenger's seat.

But even then, you don't read a little, text a few characters, read a little more, then type a couple characters.

I most certainly do on occasion.

Re:Only while in motion (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123529)

And more often than "reading a little", I may blankly stare out of the window or something after a few characters.

Re:Only while in motion (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123759)

A train passenger seat, what's that? And I doubt the GPS can tell if I'm on the car's driver's seat or passenger's seat.

If I have to explain what a train passenger seat is, then its no wonder you blankly stare out the window between typing characters. ;-)

The GPS simply tells the software you are in motion, not which side of the car you are on. The typing style and cadence, combined with being in motion indicates driver seat for most. For you it might not work until after you collect your thoughts to the point where you can complete a word before becoming distracted.

Re:Only while in motion (2)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123851)

My command of the English language was confused for a moment. OK so we are talking about he regular seats I can buy tickets for to rinde on the train. In that case I still don't understand your commnt, "Since it combines GPS motion detection, you would have to be reading that interesting book on the train/bus/car passenger seat." Yeah, so?

Regarding, "for you it might not work until after you collect your thoughts to the point where you can complete a word before becoming distracted":
1. That's certainly not for my phone to decide
2. I may be texting in a foreign language. There are endless situations imaginable where this can legitimately happen. And if it's just because of being stoned or something - then point 1 still applies.

Re:Only while in motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41125579)

But even then, you don't read a little, text a few characters, read a little more, then type a couple characters.

Yes, actually I do.

You stop reading, text the message, then pick up the book again

No, actually I do not.

Don't presume that your habits are the same as mine. I tend to do the same thing while having conversation, especially when I'm trying to send you details of our plans and my wife keeps changing her mind, as well as when watching TV and many other common activities. Granted, I don't often do them while moving at 35mph or faster, but I would be a little off-put if my phone decided that because I was the passenger in a car I shouldn't be texting.

I suspect there would be a lot of false positives for people texting while walking unless they restricted it to speeds above 3mph.

I text while I jog sometimes, and I jog a lot faster than 3mph. That's barely a decent walking pace.

Re:Only while in motion (2)

JeffAtl (1737988) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124211)

Or erratic typing while on a car's passenger seat, Anyway, preventing erratic typing while on public transport seems like a rather large problem to me.

Especially in a hostage situation

Re:Only while in motion (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124287)

Good point. It would be the least of my worries, personally, but of course it only needs to happen once, somewhere. Imagine the shitstorm if government/insurance/something mandates this, it fails in such a situation, people can't text out, and a bunch are killed.

Re:Only while in motion (5, Insightful)

e3m4n (947977) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123599)

the unforseen consequence is that people will likely give even less attention to the road and focus more attentively on texting to make sure their text doesnt get disabled. In essence it might save some, but others will pay even less attention to the road and they will make up for any gains of the few you save from mistakes.

Re:Only while in motion (1)

microbee (682094) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124633)

How about a kidnapped victim tries to text at the backseat without being detected..

Re:If it works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41122925)

How do you know they're not just receiving oral sex?

Re:If it works... (4, Funny)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123049)

....while driving...and texting.

Dangerous, but makes you God anyway so whatever.

Re:If it works... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122931)

How about lets make cars that can't go faster than XX miles per hour? How about we put a chip in the car that automatically finds where the car is via GPS and will throttle the engine so it can't break the speed limit?

Just because something is technically possible doesn't mean its worth the damage to freedom.

Re:If it works... (0)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123057)

Yeah, they have that. It's called a rental car.

Re:If it works... (5, Insightful)

Zibodiz (2160038) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123537)

How about we put a chip in the car that automatically finds where the car is via GPS and will throttle the engine so it can't break the speed limit?

If they did that, police would lose a huge revenue stream. Not going to happen.

Re:If it works... (1)

genkernel (1761338) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124323)

mod parent up

Re:If it works... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123585)

How about lets make cars that can't go faster than XX miles per hour?

How about we make cars stay in their lane unless actively steered out, and automatically brake when they detect obstacles in their path. These technologies already exist, and are already less expensive than the cost of the accidents that they prevent. This will prevent many accidents from texting, but also from drunks, sleepy drivers, parents with noisy kids in the backseat, absent minded programmers mentally designing a new algorithm instead of paying attention to their driving, etc. We should be using technology to implement known solutions to broad problems rather than focusing on questionable solutions to narrow problems.

Re:If it works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41124317)

Yeah and start crashing every time there are repairs. Come on, it's not that simple.

Re:If it works... (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#41126203)

I believe auto-braking is already available in some cars as of last year.

Re:If it works... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123825)

How about we put a chip in the car that automatically finds where the car is via GPS and will throttle the engine so it can't break the speed limit?

They already have limiters on cars. Most cars these days can exceed their speedometers for example, heck, most can't exceed 180km/h in some places. Some are higher, but here in Ontario, they already force trucks(semi's) to have a limiter so they can't go more than 105km/h. But I'll tell you what this leads to. Nothing good. Gigantic blocks of traffic on the highway.

I hate driving here.

Re:If it works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41124615)

I think you'll find your conflating driving a car with freedom. Given the human error factor its about time humans we taken out of the equation all together. The cars can already pack better than us and the automatic landings of aircraft seem alot smooth the pilot practice landing. The we'll have the freedom to use our cars to go from a to b as a mode of transport rather than an ego appendage.

Re:If it works... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41125551)

Driver operated vehicles are dangerous contraptions. We will not be safe until self driving cars become ubiquitous, and the steering wheel and pedals are removed completely. The human can play with the radio.

Re:If it works... (1)

stymy (1223496) | more than 2 years ago | (#41125841)

I think many German cars are limited to 155 mph, not sure if it's done with a chip or with a modification to the throttle though.

Re:If it works... (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123333)

If it really does work, why not just put it on all call phones ant make it so that it can not be disabled.

So my friend who has cerebral palsy should not be allowed to text?

Slap "reckless endangerment" and felony imprisonment on texting while operating a vehicle, and I bet the problem will be solved without harming anyone else.

This seems to me to be a bad idea, and someone is trying to sell it. I.e. it's not about making people safer, it's about making money.
Slashdot, as so often before, obliges with free advertisement.

Re:If it works... (5, Insightful)

green1 (322787) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123411)

how about completely ignoring what a person is doing, and only punish them if they are driving recklessly, regardless of the cause. We have laws against reckless driving already. don't make up new ones for each thing a person could possibly imagine doing. You'll never get every possible stupid act in a list anyway, and you will punish people who are actually being safe. I now live in a place where it's illegal to glance at the screen of your cell phone while stopped with the gear selector in park waiting for a 15 minute train to go by, and yet driving 20 under the limit in the fast lane on the expressway is perfectly fine. more laws isn't the answer, enforce the ones we already have instead.

I also wonder how long before we get stuck in a situation where cars drive themselves, but the person sitting in the driver's seat isn't allowed to do anything while there because of outdated laws that rarely if ever get taken off the books.

Why we have technical driving offences (2)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124045)

how about completely ignoring what a person is doing, and only punish them if they are driving recklessly, regardless of the cause. We have laws against reckless driving already.

I've often wondered about this. Why don't we just have basic, universal laws against things like dangerous or inconsiderate driving?

After a while, I realised it's because these laws invariably leave a gray area right around the point that the people who we're trying to discourage from doing dumb things are actually doing those dumb things. Worse, those people are often in denial about their problem. Just look at the number of past Slashdot discussions where numerous people claim they can phone/text/whatever and drive, despite overwhelming evidence that only a tiny subset of the population are actually supertaskers. They don't think they're guilty of dangerous driving, so having a generic dangerous driving offence isn't going to affect them.

On the other hand, an objective standard, while inevitably imposing some limitation on the few people who really are good drivers and capable of doing more, leaves no room for the potentially dangerous people to escape. Text and drive, get caught, we crush your car. Simple. You didn't accidentally text, if you've got a driving licence you should know very well if the law says texting is illegal, and there are exactly zero emergency situations where a text would be more appropriate than, say, calling 911 (or whatever your local version is) unless you start getting into conspiracy theories that belong more in Hollywood movies than legislative debates. In short, there is no excuse, and having a black-and-white technical offence on the books makes prosecution an open and shut case.

My happy karma glasses see it this way. I know that I probably am safer on the road than the average driver, based on objective measures and peer review/training, and that I probably could handle my car at speeds some way above a lot of limits without compromising safety. However, I would surely complete my journeys even faster and in greater safety if the drivers at the extreme other end of the spectrum were consistently discouraged from doing dumb things or totally removed from the road. The impact they have through bad driving and the consequences of accidents surely causes a far greater delay on average than me driving say 20% slower than I'd ideally choose to do so that I stay within a legal limit.

It's always important to be wary of arguments that limiting someone's freedom is OK because it's also limiting the freedoms of hypothetical Bad People. However, in this case, the risk from bad drivers is not so much hypothetical as measured in thousands of human lives lost every year. On the other hand, the limitations on freedom for the rest of us are almost zero since no responsible driver would ever be texting and driving anyway, and obviously there is scope for making exceptions if, for example, a doctor certifies that a patient should be exempt because of a legitimate medical condition that means restricting their phone would affect them in unintended ways when they're not driving.

So after reflecting on this subject for a long time, I've concluded that technical road laws like banning texting while driving are a net win, as long as they are enforced impartially and regularly enough to actually be a deterrent.

Re:If it works... (1)

drkim (1559875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41125019)

...punish them if they are driving recklessly, regardless of the cause.

We have that in CA
Section 22350: unsafe speed for prevailing conditions. And those conditions can be the driver not paying attention.

Re:If it works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41125673)

...punish them if they are driving recklessly, regardless of the cause.

We have that in CA
Section 22350: unsafe speed for prevailing conditions. And those conditions can be the driver not paying attention.

No, that only applies to the driving conditions. The texting would not be a condition, rather a hazard introduced by the driver. A good lawyer could argue that this was a reckless move, and win with it. In the case of someone getting killed due to a text, that's probably exactly how it would play out. But for routine traffic citations with no victims that's a lot of time and lawyer money spent and you have a lot harder time arguing it was really a hazard, since nothing actually came of it.

To address the GP:
Because "you didn't define what specifically qualifies as dangerous, reckless, or inconsiderate."
If it's not strictly and clearly defined in the law, then it's a judgement call, a matter of opinion if you will. That's why here in Montana we had to get rid of our "Reasonable and Prudent" speed limit... it didn't clearly define anything beyond the vague "driving as suitable for your vehicle and road conditions". You just can't enforce that kind of thing, you need to put up a hard limit for speed. You need rules which when followed, indicate the driver is behaving acceptably and when broken indicate that he is not.

Re:If it works... (1)

chihowa (366380) | more than 2 years ago | (#41125735)

punish them if they are driving recklessly

I think it'd be cool if we could actually start doing that regularly. In my experience, police only really pull people over for speeding. Tailgating, cutting people off, changing lanes without signaling, all of the above simultaneously... the cops don't bat an eye, or they're the ones doing it. But speeding, they're all over that.

Re:If it works... (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123515)

The problem with anti texting laws is the law of unintended consequences. Instead of holding the phone up higher where someone could see the phone and traffic at the same time (and where a cop could see), they now put it in their lap and take chances. And worse punishments don't always reduce infractions.

Re:If it works... (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124053)

Slap "reckless endangerment" and felony imprisonment on texting while operating a vehicle, and I bet the problem will be solved without harming anyone else.

I will take that bet. We have plenty of laws against doing obviously stupid things, but people still do them. Increased cracking down on drunk drivers has gone into the law of diminishing returns area, people end up in prison despite not having hurt anyone, and people still do it. If the daily mug shot links on news aggregation sites are an indicator, the prostitution business is still around.

You won't stop a behavior by making it a punishable offense.

Just the same, any technological solution will have false positives and false negatives. Whoever is selling this idea will probably become rich, while pissing a lot of people off. I can't wait for the inevitable "it failed to stop the death of my child" lawsuit.

I was a passenger in a Prius, trying to set up Bluetooth audio. This feature is disabled if the car is going above 5 mph. You can use Bluetooth, change all kinds of things about the display, fiddle with the map, but actually setting up the BT is disabled. Up to 2005, it is something the passenger can override, but requires hardware hacking 2006+. So while I may be biased against tech solutions, I do have experiences with them being implemented incorrectly.

Re:If it works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123705)

Because some people ride in buses & trains.

Re:If it works... (1)

fa2k (881632) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124181)

Imagine if you're tied up in the back seat of a mad criminal's car, but you can get your hands on the phone and awkwardly type out a message (can't call 911 as the driver will hear it).

won't work. (5, Insightful)

flogger (524072) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122889)

when keys are struck at irregular intervals, as an indicator that the test subjects' attention is divided between texting and driving.

So the way to get around that, if you are the teen forced to have this app, is to pay less attention on driving and focus on the texting.

Public transit (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122997)

That's one reason why I ride the city bus: so that I can put next to no attention on the driving (apart from occasionally looking at my device's clock to see when I'm about to arrive at my stop) and nearly undivided attention on the task that I'm performing on my device.

Mod parent insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123013)

Where are mod points when you need them? Mod parent insightful; this is one of the most stupid and, frankly, dangerous ideas I've heard in a while.

Re:won't work. (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123185)

Or even if you're not specifically trying to get around the app, what's to stop people from getting frustrated when their phone won't type, and gradually paying more attention to the phone as they're shaking it and cursing?

Re:won't work. (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123193)

That would be self-correcting in the long run, for what I think would be obvious reasons.

Re:won't work. (1)

Known Nutter (988758) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123289)

Yes, but... at whose expense?

Re:won't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41124115)

I'd say it's more a matter of spending more time trying to figure out why your phone suddenly stopped working while you're trying to text.
It's one thing to divide your attention between driving and texting, but when your phone acts up, suddenly you are concerned that something may be wrong with your device. That's going to attract the attention of the driver more than just typing.

Re:won't work. (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124257)

Even if the app is locked so you can't disable it, I know on my tablet I can disable GPS from the notification bar

But... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41122895)

... if it's measuring keystroke entropy, wouldn't that mean the person is already starting to text? I've seen lots of solutions like this before (flash random letters/numbers, require parroting those letters/numbers, etc), and it's the same issue: you're responding to something someone is doing instead of proactively not allowing the person to do it in the first place. Essentially, the person could already be causing a problem on the road.

In other words, it's an interesting piece of academic work that I'm sure has applications elsewhere, however it's not going to solve the problem of texting behind the wheel.

Re:But... (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123387)

Good point.

Fishing the phone out, opening the texting screen and starting to text is probably the most dangerous time, whereas entering characters slowly while attempting to watch the road is probably not quite so dangerous (although still dangerous enough since you pretty much can't text on a touch screen one handed).

I suspect that the design here is to make it futile to try to text, thereby extinguishing the urge to do so.

I also wonder what some of the predictive keyboards such as Swiftkey [swiftkey.net] that can predict not just words after a couple characters have been typed, but entire words that typically occur together. Such keyboards deliver entire words in bursts to the text message, followed by a couple characters followed by more entire words (selected from the suggestions). That has to mess up the cadence.

Re:But... (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124089)

(although still dangerous enough since you pretty much can't text on a touch screen one handed).

And this is why such solutions will fail. I pretty much can't text two handed on a touch screen. I guess that means people are different.

I further infer that means this technology might be able to capture a majority of the people, but will give false positives and false negatives, which will frustrate users. I watch people touch-text while talking, not looking at their device, just like I've had people touch-type while talking. Holding both hands at the 6 o'clock position would let you comfortably touch-text and drive without being flagged.

To me, reading a text while driving is more dangerous. If you don't know what the message contains, you may take more time than you thought, like the sub-mini "novel you can't put down". Can this technology stop readers as well?

Public Transport (5, Insightful)

p0p0 (1841106) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122941)

So basically they are taking it upon themselves to ban you from texting in a public transport, or as a passenger. Many rides are bumpy enough and anyone carrying on a conversation might seem distracted enough for the app to trigger.

All this is going to do is force drivers to pay MORE attention to the phone as they don't want their message to be cancelled by the app.

Pass holders (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123011)

I imagine that if a measure like this is made mandatory, people who hold a monthly bus pass would have a case for an exemption.

Re:Pass holders (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123085)

Well I don't hold a monthly bus pass because I can satisfy most of my daily routines by bike and the monthly pass is too expensive for occasional use, but I still want to be able to type erratically when I ride the bus using a single-trip ticket. Also, trains - very often, the train track runs alongside the road, not sure the GPS can distinguish this reliably.

Re:Public Transport (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123413)

So basically they are taking it upon themselves to ban you from texting in a public transport, or as a passenger. Many rides are bumpy enough and anyone carrying on a conversation might seem distracted enough for the app to trigger. .

The linked article [scientificamerican.com] suggests otherwise.

They can distinguish between texting by the driver and texting by a passenger based on the cadence of typing.

Realize of course this was in a simulator. They plan to put it on a closed course with actual cars for further testing.

What a pain! (5, Insightful)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122943)

The GPS built into my car has this capability already. What was the first thing I did when I got the car home? I took the damn thing apart and disabled the system that prevents you from using the GPS while driving. Why? Because I like to have passengers in my car. Its perfectly safe for a passenger to use the GPS all they want while I am driving. Hell they can even watch a DVD in the surround sound system in the car while I drive. I don't care. I'm not distracted by it, so what does it matter? (Though I will say in most jurisdictions just being able to see the movie is grounds for a moving violation, so be careful.)

Anyway, this software is likely to think that a passenger who is texting while talking to other people in the car are distracted drivers as well. Why don't we just give up on using technology to babysit people in these areas and start teaching people responsibility? If there is a way to disable texting while driving, someone can re enable it by rooting/jailbreaking their phone and modifying the software. What is the point in entering this arms race? People need to learn to make intelligent decisions, and not have intelligent decisions forced upon them.

Re:What a pain! (4, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122969)

The Ford SYNC system does this already. If the car is going more than 3 miles/hour, you can't do a lot of functions, including look through an address book unless you use the voice features.

The problem is two things: Bad drivers, and sue-happy people. If a wreck happens, the attorneys involved want to go after the people with the deep pockets, not the party at fault. So, this is why Ford and other makers have to put this brain-damaged crap in their vehicles, just so they can claim they did their due diligence in dealing with the idiots.

Re:What a pain! (2)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123147)

I'm sure you can disable that if you want. They always leave a way to do so, it seems like. They know that some people would not pay for a factory system that cripples them when they could buy an aftermarket system that has no such limitations. The handsfree in my car is tied to the GPS system, and once I cracked that thing, I was able to do whatever I want with the phone while driving. Though my car doesn't have the voice commands. I really liked the SYNC system I played around with.

Re:What a pain! (1)

RNLockwood (224353) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123419)

Don't hold Ford SYNC up as a model. My version, about 6 months old, fails on nearly a daily basis. It's by Microsoft and I wish they had included a version of the three fingered salute.

Re:What a pain! (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124139)

Prius does a similar thing. If you use the voice features for anything more complicated than you can do manually, most of the time it will tell you to stop the car first.

And for jittles - no, you can't disable this in a Prius without a hardware hack. And it's not something that most people who have bought the car since they disabled manually overriding it 6 years ago think about before deciding to include. Very few people know to ask, and very few have the option - either the car that's on the lot has it installed, or it doesn't - take it or leave it.

Horrible in practice (2)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122977)

Heuristics like this might be interesting on a theoretical level, but they won't be anywhere near as reliable as other approaches. I don't want my phone to have its functions disabled because I'm halfway through typing a text message and I sneeze or something. Phone integration with cars is only going to increase. Link cars with phones via Bluetooth and have the cars tell the phones when they are in motion.

Ah, the old "for the children" ploy. Run away. (2)

zephvark (1812804) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122995)

"But as a parent, you could require your child to have something like this on their cellphone as a way to protect them..."

No! (4, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#41122999)

I would never install an app that detected when I was driving and shut

Re:No! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41125281)

You won't have to, it will be installed in hardware for you.

Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123045)

...while laws prohibit texting while driving in many states, many people still find it impossible to resist.

There are many stupid people.

Sweet! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123073)

Shouldn't that work against drunk texting as well?

Yours, Big Brother.

Last time my parents "required" me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123095)

... to put a "parental-monitoring-software" on my computer, was a decade ago. Interestingly, they stopped to "require" it shortly after their computers stopped working and two external supporters could not find the reason why they had about 99% packetloss... Don't try to outsmart your children in any area, but expecially not phones and cars.

GPS off? Swype input? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123103)

The GPS on my phone is almost always off. What are they going to do, force me to turn it on and waste my battery?
I use swype for "keyboard input", if you can call it that. They need an algorithm for that too.

Police! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123121)

Help I'm being chased by a big black pickup with no lights that just tried to run me off the road. What do you mean I need to pull over and place the vehicle in park to call 911?

Re:Police! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123251)

Well, I don't know about the big black truck but, the software would be smart enough to AUTO DIAL 911 for you if you were being chased by a big black MAN. With no lights... hmmm.... you mean his mouth is closed.

Yeah, if it were a big black MAN, that's a real emergency. Dude should have been handcuffed the second he was born.

Re:Police! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123313)

What's the first thing you hear when a black baby is born?
PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK, NIGGER!!!

Re:Police! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123707)

Just pull over and put 2 in the driver side window. Gotta love the 2nd Amendment.

combination of these technologies ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123169)

So, what then, will it only disable texting if it not only sees (from the GPS) that the person is moving pretty fast AND they're typing differently (irregular intervals and such)... Cause to judge by just ONE of these would be unfair...

A person whose GPS indicates that they're moving BUT they're texting normally could be a passenger in a car, train, bus, etc.
A person whose GPS indicates they're still but typing irregularly could just be drunk or stupid.

Gotta take everything into consideration... I just feel bad for a retarded person who is a passenger in a car.... no texting for him.

Like hell they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123183)

"Employers could use it as a way to mitigate their liability for accidents on work time."
If it is their cellphone that they have provided, fine no problem.
If it is MY cellphone, they need to keep their fucking hands off of it.

Riiiiight (2)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123213)

Forget about teaching your children not to do it, we`ll just create another useless device to offset parenting skills and common sense. So tell me genius what keeps the kids from having a second phone and switch the sim card.

Re:Riiiiight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123305)

Responsible parents buy CDMA, apparently.

Re:Riiiiight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41125303)

This:

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20110117903.pdf

Q.E.D.

Re:Riiiiight (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41125537)

Forget about teaching your children not to do it, we`ll just create another useless device to offset parenting skills and common sense.

If your plan requires a large number of people to have parenting skills or common sense, or any other virtue, your plan will fail. If it requires people to be vile, stupid animals, you'll probably get get much better results. If it only requires that people breathe from time to time, it's a very good plan.

9.6 / 10 people suck. You know that if you've ever been in traffic. It's not fixable, and it never will be. Work around it.

(This is not an endorsement of this article's stupid system. It's stupid.)

What you meant was... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123247)

"As an insurance company, you could require your customers to have something like this on their phone"

FTFY

What if ir were.. (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123277)

What if this were mandatory and tied to the app that measures your driving for the insurance company?
Not good with its error rate. False positives be dammed, we are raising your rates!

How about a different solution? A device in the car, NFC, RFID, Bluetooth, etc, that handshakes with phones in the car, and which the driver has to answer to show which passenger is the driver. Then the app on the drivers phone disables texting until you are out of the car. Until someone with a phone present claims to be the driver, the car will not run.

Re:What if ir were.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123339)

False positives have never stopped an insurance company. Captcha: transit

Re:What if ir were.. (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 2 years ago | (#41125391)

Get an old phone without a SIM card or a contract. (This phone can only call 911.) Then keep it in the car and designate that phone as a driver's phone. How is the car to know?

Also, have someone to stand near the car. Start the car and designate the stranger's phone as the driver's phone. Drive away. The software will probably decide that the driver's phone lost power.

Have your phone off when you start the car. Start driving. Later turn the phone on. What will happen then? Is this phone in your car or in the car in the other lane? Would it be OK for your car to interact with that phone and disable something on it? Would a phone require some pairing or other interaction before car A can disable phone B? If yes then you keep pretending that the phone is in the other car (Bluetooth can reach out pretty far.) If no then your car, without a driver's phone, will be randomly disabling passengers' phones in other cars as you go by (a clear violation of all kinds of rules, from moral to FCC.) If it disables only the first phone that came along then you can then turn your own phone on and text all you want.

Stick with the law; (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123365)

But goddamn enforce it! Law can be a great thing if it's used correctly, or if it's used at all. We have scores of freedoms we take for granted, because if we engaged in them we'd get kicked in the face or put in a cell. To limit freedoms by making things impossible is a road that ends short of breath and in a collective straitjacket. Auchtung!

texting and personal responsibility, not. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123373)

It is pretty obvious from all of these comments so far, the ones decrying this software, and going on and on about how it wrong to deprive those on public transportation, blah blah blah, and how we should teach people personal responsibility, don't get it. If we could teach personal responsibility, there wouldn't be a need for this kind of software. Personally, I think we should get to drag the morons we catch texting while driving, screaming from their cars and beat the hell out of them using their phones as a blunt instrument; breaking the phone on their thick skull while beating some sense into their halfwit heads. At the very least, it would remove the threat they pose to those around them with their selfish behavior.

Until the first lawsuit hits... (4, Interesting)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123519)

People that have been kidnapped have texted from the trunks of cars alerting others to what is going on. Imagine if those texts were blocked because you were in a moving vehicle and you were not typing normally?

Re:Until the first lawsuit hits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41124831)

You seriously can't think of even one means of allowing a mobile device to send a distress signal that does not rely on composing a text while under duress? Seriously!?

Zoomsafer (1)

rbulling (7973) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123671)

There's a commercial company called Zoomsafer [zoomsafer.com] that has been doing work related to this. Their current software offerings focus on measuring use of devices in fleet contexts to help companies manage risk.

Jesus Christ this is fucking retarded. (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123677)

What happened to personal responsibility? We are a nation (world?) full of people looking to shift culpability anywhere and everywhere except the one place it belongs.

privacy rights, anyone ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123703)

how about "F*#k you for snitching on me?" This violate my privacy, dammit "

I turn the GPS off (1)

bobbutts (927504) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123813)

Unless I'm navigating, I leave the GPS powered off. I suppose this software will require GPS always on. Not sure how that will work out.

Sweet! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41123899)

Shouldn't this be able to detect drunk texting as well?

Yours,
A bit drunken Big Brother.

Trains, busses, other public transportation, etc? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#41123993)

Seems there would be a lot of collateral damage here. Also, what happens when you disable the GPS to save battery life? Will this app be broken/disabled or are we going to be required to enable the GPS at all times and worsen battery life for our own protection?

you only divide your attention between (1)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124025)

driving and other things ?? You've never had someone talking at you/to you while you were trying to text, or any number of "other things" that cause your attention to waver...say that PHAT princess that just walked by...
The texting and driving laws recently passed are useless grandstanding laws passed by politicos that are attention whores by definition. The generic driving laws cover driving and performing any actions which draws your attention away from the dangerous job of driving.

So can... (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 2 years ago | (#41124083)

- a tree
- a truck
- an other car
- a 3 years old.

A year too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41124107)

Umm... I work for Sprint and we've already got a program that does this. It's called Drive First, and we've been offering it for a year now. I think it goes off the GPS but the program detects when the device is moving more than 10 mph and locks all functions on the phone.....

many people still find it impossible to resist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41124391)

Or as we like to say "Willfully break the law, knowingly putting the lives of others at risk." Yup that covers it. But lets say it's impossible and pass a law, coz we don't have enough of those already and the all seem to work so well and the enforcement is so consistent and effective.

This could do more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41124601)

The person who is likely to text while driving will want to and try to text while driving even if this is forced on them.

Except they now adapt their behaviour. How? Obviously they know they have to text in a steady and consistent way. So they calm themselves and focus all of their attention on the phone. Hold it steady with the other hand.

frIs7 psot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41124771)

the fruMitless [goat.cx]

Prevents a passenger from using the phone to text (1)

olddoc (152678) | more than 2 years ago | (#41125153)

This is like navigation systems that don't let you use them when the car is moving even though a passenger could be entering the info. I recently sent a message for my son who was driving. Perfectly safe even though the GPS would have detected motion. Maybe the app needs to read the status of the passenger airbag: if it is off due to no passenger, then block texting.

GPS Drains Batteries Quickly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41125291)

And there are a number of reasons someone can be distracted while typing. Let's not forget that this would apply equally to passengers, (actually, those in the backseats typically suffer even greater G forces).

Gee, there'd never be a workaround on Cydia for (1)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41125837)

No sir. It's not as if a community has grown around add and removing features outside of the manufacturer's specifications to Iphones
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