In recent years, mobile phone use has become one of the main causes of accidents on the road. According to the National Safety Council, the activity results in 1,600,000 accidents per year in the U.S. There are 330,000 injuries per year as a result of these accidents, according to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study. And there are 11 teen deaths every day because of texting and driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It is the number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers.
Chevy was looking for a way to reduce this type of distracted driving. The automaker sponsored an all-day, all-out hack-a-thon in Detroit called the Chevrolet Hack Lab. The purpose of the event, part of Chevy’s celebration of International Children’s Day, was to harness the uninhibited ingenuity of 30 brilliant teens ages 13-19 from around the world (including the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Dubai, Israel, and India) to discover new solutions.
Kids in Chevy’s Hack Lab conceived the idea of an app that would use “positive peer pressure”, playing an audio message from a friend or loved one whenever a driver attempted to interact with their phone while on the road. We picked things up from there, designing an app that uses the phone’s accelerometer to detect when the phone is used while driving. We created an audio interface that let’s friend’s of the user leave a personalized message to deter phone use at the moment of distraction.
The product was tested by researchers at Wayne State University and demonstrated at Cannes. After promising feedback, Chevrolet decided to continue developing the product for public use.