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Software Holds Cell Phone Calls While Driving 452

An anonymous reader writes "Canadian company Aegis Mobility has developed software that detects if a cell phone is moving at 'car' speeds. If so, the software, DriveAssistT, will alert the cellular network, telling it to hold calls and text messages until the drive is over. Calls are not blocked entirely; callers will be notified that the person appears to be driving, but they can still leave an emergency voice mail, which will be sent through immediately."
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Software Holds Cell Phone Calls While Driving

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  • by kpainter ( 901021 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:10PM (#25378121)
    Seems like exactly the same as turning the phone off. I smell a patent!
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:32PM (#25378297) Journal
      Funny you should smell a patent: MS actually has a very similar one(though, shockingly enough, MS's variant has a lot more centralized command and control, and a lot less local decisionmaking by devices, go figure). US Patent Application 20080125102 [uspto.gov]
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @12:54AM (#25378873)

        Hmmm ... What is my gf is on the phone while I am driving ...

        • ... right. (Score:5, Funny)

          by Almahtar ( 991773 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @01:16AM (#25378989) Journal
          This is slashdot. You don't have a girlfriend.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by welcher ( 850511 )
      It's different because you don't need to remember to turn it back on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Geam ( 30459 )

      Seems like exactly the same as turning the phone off. I smell a patent!

      It is different because you do not need to pay a monthly fee to turn the phone off.

      From TFA:

      The company hopes to be able to announce early next year that the software is available through a carrier, probably for $10 to $20 per month for a family.

      Nobody would ever switch to passenger mode "just this one time because it is important" while driving either.

      • by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @12:46AM (#25378819) Homepage

        i agree that it's stupid to charge for this feature (really stupid), but the point of this is to provide a convenience to the subscriber, not to restrict their actions. this isn't like one of those court-ordered car breathalyzers that are meant to safeguard against poor judgment or deter stupid behavior.

        chances are, if someone has this service enabled on their phone, they intend on using it. if they choose to ignore it, that's their business. it doesn't detract from the inherent usefulness of this service for those who don't want to be distracted while their car is moving.

        frankly, i think legally requiring cellphone carriers to offer this type of service would be much more productive than the current state law in California requiring people to use hands-free headsets while driving--which is proven to be just as distracting as holding a phone to your ear. it's the act of engaging in a phone conversation while driving that causes accidents, not the fact that you're holding a phone with one hand. but i bet makers of hands-free headset are real happy about the government endorsement of their product.

    • by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @12:28AM (#25378723)
      Lordy. I just scrolled down and read a bazzillion (it's a real word. Just ask George Dubya) posts with the following. To stop a bazzillion more people posting the same thing, a quick rundown of what people have already thought of:

      People other than drivers use phones.
      There is a function to turn the feature off.
      It would seem that it would get turned on in a train automatically too.
      Yes, people use phones in taxi's.

      If you were going to post along those lines, save your typing fingers. It's like those four points over and over again for the page of comments.
  • by hugzz ( 712021 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:11PM (#25378127)
    Per subject..
    • by Max Littlemore ( 1001285 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:37PM (#25378333)

      Good thing there's a passenger mode and you can basically opt out. I have hands free in the car and I find it useful to take the occasional call, so I wouldn't use this in a car.

      Motorbikes are different. I'd definitely use something like this eliminate the distraction of the phone ringing or buzzing when riding.

      • by TehZorroness ( 1104427 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:57PM (#25378499)

        that must be one MOTHERFUCKING loud and obnoxious ring tone to hear it over the wind and bike flying down the highway :P

        Perfect for lunch or movies :)

      • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @01:41AM (#25379119) Homepage

        This seems like a feature that they're planning on selling to parents. Otherwise, if you can't remember to turn off your phone before getting in a car, what are the chances that you'll remember to turn off the cell lock when getting on a train, bus, or plane? This sounds exactly like the kind of Won't-Somebody-Please-Think-of-the-children that will lead to some expensive new gadget that simply annoys teenagers. It also, of course, gives them an all-new reason why they're not answering you when you call.

        If you're an adult and you actually need this... LEARN TO IGNORE YOUR CALLS. Trust me, it's possible. People in Los Angeles have been masters of this for 40 years.

        I really wish they'd create something that would turn Cellphones back on at the end of movies. I can't tell you how often I've gone for a day or two without being reachable simply because I was trying to scrub the memory of The Santa Clause 3 out of my brain.

    • I bet greyhound and Amtrack will not approve either.

    • Duh. You can turn it off if you're a passenger.

      "override the motion-sensing feature to indicate that they're riding in car rather than driving".

      And I'm sure you can initiate calls regardless.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... and let the machine get it.
    • that's your option. some people might want to minimize unnecessary distractions while they're driving. it's an opt-in service so just don't opt-in.
  • This is brilliant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:13PM (#25378149)

    Nobody rides a train at car speeds, am I right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RuBLed ( 995686 )
      Wouldn't someone think of the super heroes...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Train? I looked it up on wikipedia and I think I understand the concept. Its sort of like a bunch of cars where only the lead car is driving. In a way, its sort of like a tandem trailer with lots and lots of trailing wagons tied on the back. I guess you may have a point.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      from the Aegis Mobility website:

      Optionally, users as passengers can choose to override DriveAssist(TM) and accept incoming calls and place outbound calls without interruption.

  • by Ironchew ( 1069966 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:15PM (#25378159)

    The "I'm in the back of an unmarked white van" patch has already been released.

  • by SoonerPet ( 893902 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:17PM (#25378177)
    So when I'm on the train, subway, in the back of a taxi or in the passenger seat in a car I can't talk on the phone either? I believe I'd be going the same "car" speeds in all those situations. I don't think they thought this through at all. It would just piss me off more than anything.
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @12:00AM (#25378519)
      I don't think they thought this through at all.

      Of course they have. You can TURN IT OFF if you're a passenger.

      RTFA FFS.

      • by hacker ( 14635 )

        "Of course they have. You can TURN IT OFF if you're a passenger."

        I'm with the OP on this one. If you can turn it off as a passenger, what's to stop me from turning it off AS THE DRIVER also?

        • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @12:48AM (#25378829)

          what's to stop me from turning it off AS THE DRIVER also?

          That's a bit of an uninformed conclusion. Just because you can imagine a bunch of cases where such a feature is not a good idea, doesn't mean that there aren't cases where it would solve a lot of problems. If your job involved lots of short drives between destinations then it could be really useful. As soon as you start moving your phone won't interrupt you, as soon as you stop it lets you know about the calls you missed, and in the meantime it let the people trying to contact you know what's going on.

          If you took your blinkers off you might realize that this is a feature that will be useful for some people, who will purchase it, and not so much for others, who won't purchase it. It's not a hard thing to get your hear around if you try. Nobodies going to purchase it and then try and figure out a way of defeating it.

          If Slashdot was a crowded room, and someone were to come into the room and ask "Who owns the red car parked out the front", the answer "oh yeah, that's mine" would be lost amongst the noise of everyone else replying "It's not mine. I can't imagine why you'd think it was mine. How dare you suggest that I left a red car parked out the front".

  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:17PM (#25378185) Homepage Journal

    No, wrong, voice mail is more of a distraction than receiving text messages. Just don't enable the ability to respond to the text message until the car comes to a stop.

    But what about passengers?

  • by exley ( 221867 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:25PM (#25378225) Homepage

    Should go over well with friends and family.

  • Slight oversight (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saib0t ( 204692 ) <saibot@hesper[ ]mud.org ['ia-' in gap]> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:28PM (#25378247)
    People don't take the train, or bus?

    Car passengers don't get to make phone calls either?

    But more importantly, what is Iron Man going to do to call off missiles being shot at him now?

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Joce640k ( 829181 )

      Not in America, no. Public transport in America is only for the very, very poor.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Good news, though. The current economy may dramatically help with that problem.
      • I take the bus to work in colorado about half the time, it's really quite a reasonable and frequent service given how far out of town i am.

        My parents live a similar distance from edinburgh and I can assure you that their public transit is significantly poorer.

        I think it gets skewed because most US impressions of europe are of big cities like London and Paris that have exceptional public transport (probably not too unlike NYC either)

        • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @12:16AM (#25378635)

          Actually NYC is screwed up compared to many U.S. cities. Since they built the very first subways in the US, and a lot of other cities learned from their mistakes. Washington DC for example, has really good public transit, and the parts I've seen of Atlanta, while a pretty limited sample around the airport and convention centers and hotels, look very good too. New York isn't nearly as bad as most US tourists think, but having the terminals underground to give a smaller surface footprint makes it harder for the police to keep problems out - there's places that have solidly licked that particular problem just by putting the turnstyle level above ground with plenty of glass around it, and others that feel they can afford enough beat cops to really watch the entrances.

      • That depends on where you are. In some places, like New York City, there's very good public transport and everybody uses it. In Los Angeles, the local transit authority (The MTA) agrees with you and the service is rotten. Not only that, it's a "spoke system" designed strictly to get people to and from Central LA and it's almost impossible to move from one outlying area to another without going downtown even if the two areas are almost adjacent.
  • From the video: "Press 3 to request subscriber location information."

    Great. So, not only is it blocking all communication while moving sufficiently fast, it's also reporting your location back to anyone who calls.

    It seems to be presented as something you'd put on a teen's phone. Great for the parents, I'm sure. The teens are going to hate it.

    And for what it's worth, it's not incredibly difficult to talk on the phone while driving -- or to ignore it. I'm sure drunk driving is a much bigger problem.

    • While I'm at it, they have a feedback form [aegismobility.com] -- it requires subscribing to their spam^Wnewsletter, but it's possible they actually don't know how much this idea sucks.

    • by Max Littlemore ( 1001285 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @12:07AM (#25378569)

      And for what it's worth, it's not incredibly difficult to talk on the phone while driving -- or to ignore it. I'm sure drunk driving is a much bigger problem.

      Nope. Common misconception and just plain wrong

      The reactions of drivers on phone calls are [theage.com.au] worse [walk.com.au] than [nowwearetalking.com.au] the reactions of drunk drivers. Check those links, or use google, you'll find a mass of studies supporting this.

      So if you are someone who thinks it's okay to drive while on the phone, please turn in you license and refrain from driving at all.

    • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @12:25AM (#25378699)

      Their have been TV shows where people tested cell phone subjects, i.e. driving in a parking with cones laid out, or at a track, and pretty frequently, people using cell phones have reaction times similar to people who are legally drunk, and make similar numbers and types of mistakes. I've even seen examples where the reporter or host has told a driver, "What you've just done compares to a person who's driving with a BAQ of about 0.18 or 0.22." So don't be too sure drunk driving is a much bigger problem. It might just be that the drunk is drunk the whole journey, and the cell phone user is only an increased risk while they are actually on the phone, and most calls don't last the whole trip.

      • Well, most people doing extensive cell-phoning while driving are not engaged in complicated parking-lot maneuvers, cone avoidance, et cetera. They're going straight. down. the highway. Sometimes traffic is tricky, sometimes less so. A few people are probably capable of cutting off a conversation if they are transitioning from straightforward driving such as that and something more complicated.

        (Just a few thoughts on the matter, not advocacy for or against any particular regulation or lack thereof regarding

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Atzanteol ( 99067 )

        Their have been TV shows


  • Please... (Score:3, Funny)

    by zarozarozaro ( 756135 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:31PM (#25378281)
    Won't someone please think of the passengers?
  • Some facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by eightball ( 88525 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:31PM (#25378283) Journal

    From here [aegismobility.com]

    Key Features:
    Automatic initiation of service
    Passenger override capability
    911 always allowed

    Inbound caller message is played that the subscriber is driving
    Inbound caller is routed to voicemail and text messages are stored and forwarded later
    Outbound calls and text messages are disallowed
    Priority notification is supported as an option
    Location requests are optional, when permission is granted by the subscriber
    Accept list of numbers assures user control over privacy of context information

    but don't let that get into your 2 minutes of hate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )

      You left out one other feature

      Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. said it plans to offer a discount of 3 percent to 10 percent on family policies for people who use DriveAssistT.

      I imagine you've been on /. long enough to see the implications of that.

      The insurance company 'discount' will quickly become a premium for everyone else.
      Especially if the service is only available from one cellular company.

      Personally, I don't see that happening soon,
      since the software is limited to relatively expensive GPS enabled WinMo & Symbian phones.

  • Trains? Taxis? Just turn the damn thing off.
  • .... everything looks like a nail.

    I predict a sudden rise in "emergencies"

  • Yes, the Nanny-State types will really love this. Until the elite members of the Nanny State Directors Brigade are trying to run somone else's life from the back seat of their hybrid limo on the way to a fundraiser where they'll be asking Motorola for more campaign cash.
  • This is not meant to be mandatory, ok. So quit crying about what happens when you're a passenger in a car, or on a train, bus etc. What happens is you turn the feature off.
  • do we need? What next they going to gag and bag my kids so they don't distract me? Here's an idea, ticket distracted drivers.
  • Dumb idea. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChangeOnInstall ( 589099 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:45PM (#25378411)

    This brings to mind the "feature" in most navigation systems where most functionality is disabled while driving. Terrible idea, as it winds up being more distracting trying to work around it.

    Case in point, the Nissan/Infiniti navi/entertainment stuff in my sister-in-law's car. It disables certain "more complex" functions when moving. One of the disabled features is browsing for a song to play from a CF card. Result: you spend more time playing with the thing trying to find the song you were looking for, which means the "safety feature" has in fact created an additional distraction.

    The time I had to pull off the freeway in a "not-so-nice" area to reprogram my navigation system (had accidentally selected avoid freeways without realizing it) is another simple example of the dangers of such nannyware. Had to do this because the Nav thought it would be too dangerous for me to push "Dest", and then "Previous Destination", and then toggle the "Freeway" checkbox.

    The next day a $2.50 Radio Shack switch was installed to disable the vehicle speed sensor feed wire. :D More modern navs can't be worked around in this fashion, but you can often scour torrent sites for "patches" to navigation DVDs to work around the speed-disable "feature". Some companies even make a living at it by building add on modules to the system itself, e.g. http://www.coastaletech.com/gmx320.htm [coastaletech.com]. It's a requirement for any vehicle I purchase from here on out that any such "nanny features" be capable of being disabled.

    No one wants this. I wouldn't touch a phone with it. Good luck with that.

  • How does it know that a car is moving at car speed? If it was hardware, I would think it has some kind of sensors for acceleration and works out the speed from that, but the summary says it's software.
    • Ok, never mind, it only works with gps phones. I thought it was something clever to do with the changes in signal strength between cell towers or something.
    • The GPS in a phone can tell indeed tell you how fast you are going. They take all the information they can get (including cell tower data), since their primary requirement is an extremely robust fix under all circumstances (cf 911 dispatch).

      I've done work with GPS location stuff under Brew, and two things come to my mind immediately: applications need the equivalent of root privilege to alter the phone call progress, and GPS fixes cost money. At least they did on Sprint when we were testing. Maybe they do

  • It will work well for most people, but they don't keep a handset which doesn't work while they drive.

    It will prevent a lot of accidents. People just won't want to use it. Good intentions, good tech, bad to force it on people.

    • by WK2 ( 1072560 )

      It will prevent a lot of accidents. People just won't want to use it. Good intentions, good tech, bad to force it on people.

      I say the opposite. It isn't being forced on people, it is optional, but still a bad idea, and won't prevent any accidents. Anybody with an ounce of common sense already doesn't answer their cell phone while driving, and nobody would enable a feature like this. Most likely, the only effect this will have is frustrating people where this feature is enabled by default, causing their cell phone to mysteriously miss important calls, and then a week later they discover this feature and disable it.

  • What if you're a passenger in a car? Even if they could pinpoint the location with GPS's limitation, how do they know you're the driver?

    In addition, every state, and every country has a different speed limit (even different counties). For example, the speed limit in the stretches around the Puget Sound range from 55 to 65 MPH. Other states in the US have speed limits up to 70, and some of which where the highways have little towns and even less local traffic (such as N. Dakota) have little to no speed limit

  • Any time a driver is in a collision, their phone records should be searchable by their insurance corp for whether they were in a voice, text or other mobile phone session. If they were, and there's no evidence that the phone was operated by someone else (a passenger, left with someone at home, etc), they should be entitled to zero liability protection from their insurance. And their risk rating should get a lot worse.

    Some people can drive while phoning. Everyone who tries it should be absolutely sure that t

  • Kidnapped and in the trunk of a car...oops.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.