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If Apple introduces sensor system to stop drivers messaging, will others follow?

Apple has filed a patent for a sensor system that would automatically shut off a users phone, if it detected that they were driving. The patent was revealed on Tuesday, and works by barring a user’s access to text messages whilst on the road. The sensor would calculate how fast the car was traveling, and also whereabouts in the vehicle the person was sitting. This would mean that passengers who were not in control of the car could still access their messages and use the texting facility. The move by Apple is thought to be their attempt to increase road safety and eliminate distractions whilst driving.

Source: USPTO

Source: USPTO

The patent by Apple is separated into two parts, the first relies on an on-board sensor which determines how fast the car is travelling, and the second includes installing technology within the car itself that actually blocks out the phone signals from outside. Apple are already rolling out their newest in-car innovations, such as Car Play, a music system that allows you to verbally select track lists, and Siri to other models. And of course, where Apple lead, other communication giants will surely follow, particularly when you take into consideration a recent study by Brake, the road safety charity, that suggested texting can increase the likelihood of a crash by up to 23 times, and that it slowed down driver’s reactions times.

Apple Car Play

Apple Car Play

Catching users texting whilst they are driving is particularly difficult, unless they are caught red handed, in the act of sending or composing a message. Typically, drivers who text place the phone in their lap so it is not visible to passing authorities. This new sensor system could help to stop the people for whom texting is a real obsession, and simply have to access their messages, even whilst on the move.

The new system would feature several innovative technologies, the first using a motion sensor and a scenery analyser to determine whether the user is driving, and the second which would transmit blocking signals the phone. The motion sensor would activate a stop on the phone once a certain speed has been achieved, and the scenery analyser which requires actual image acquisition and processing to determine whether the user is in a ‘safe’ part of the vehicle, or an ‘unsafe’ position. Once these parameters have been ascertained, the lock out mechanism would then be activated according to the phone’s preset constrictions.

Source: USPTO

Source: USPTO

For the signal blocking technology, the vehicles onboard sensors would activate a device that would then transmit a block to the phone.

Apple stated in their patent application that these restrictions would be of particular benefit to concerned parents, and suggested that the law could be changed to force all new phones to carry this new technology.

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