Colorado Entrepreneur’s Solution for Distracted Driving
Scott Tibbitts, a Colorado entrepreneur, has created a way to prevent distracted driving. Called Groove, it is a small box that connects a vehicle to the Cloud.
According to the website of Tibbits’ company, Katasi, Groove notifies your phone provider that you’re driving and lets them block text messages, phone calls, and social media updates while still allowing you to access GPS and music streaming.
Katasi is the Boulder, Colorado, company Tibbits founded in 2010 with a team of Colorado telecom and aerospace industry executives to develop the technology to create Groove. With Groove, while a vehicle is moving, the Cloud itself notifies people sending you messages that you are driving and that you will receive the messages after you arrive at your destination.
Inspired by Tragedy
It was a tragedy in 2008 that inspired Tibbitts to invent Groove. A man named Dave Sueper never showed up for a business meeting with Tibbitts in Denver, because he was killed in a two-car accident on his way to the office, the victim of a distracted driver who ran a red light and T-boned Sueper’s car.
According to the Katasi website, Tibbitts was profoundly affected by the emotional devastation of Sueper’s co-workers, especially after having grieved with his own employees after a similar loss in his former company. Even more, he was moved that a family similar to his own had just been devastated by an action both mindless and tragic.
‘I could not shake this idea that I had just driven through the same intersection. If the meeting had been scheduled two hours earlier, that could have been me.’
As a rocket scientist and entrepreneur, Tibbitts assembled a team of technical entrepreneurs to come up with a solution for distracted driving, Katasi. What they came up with was an idea that leveraged the Internet of Things, connected vehicles, and Cloud computing. Tibbitts said:
We believed that if we could envision and develop such a ‘future technology state’ solution, we would be able to accelerate deployment of THE technical solution to distracted driving by several years, saving tens of thousands of lives.
How Does It Work?
Groove plugs into a socket under the steering wheel of all cars made since 1996. It prevents the mobile phone from sending or receiving texts, e-mails, or social media, although it does allow phone calls. Tibbitts told CBS that Groove is different from apps that block messages while driving because Groove takes everything up into the cloud. And Groove works with all brands of mobile phones. But in order for it to work, Tibbitts needs to get mobile networks to cooperate, and that has not happened yet, despite years of testing and demos. Tibbitts said it comes down to legal issues because phone companies have to put protections in place in case of lawsuits. “There’s just the fact that we’re touching their network, which they’re not always comfortable with,” he added.
Next up for Katasi is GrooveGame, which will let drivers compete for “best on road.” It will also provide rewards for good drivers through its brand partners, according to Katasi’s website.