A Boulder, Colorado, company called Katasi has come up with a device that can end texting while driving, as Gabriel Noble and Katie Couric write for Yahoo Tech (YT). The gadget, called Groove, plugs under the steering wheel into the OBD2 port and connects the car to the Internet.
Each driver of the vehicle it is plugged into needs to register with Groove, YT writes. Then, just a few seconds after the car starts, Groove determines who is driving and contacts that person’s mobile phone carrier, which can then block distractions before they get to the phone. Once the car is turned off, all of the blocked messages appear on the phone, YT writes.
Groove is the brainchild of Scott Tibbitts, who has worked on it for the last five years, reports Matt Richtel for The New York Times. Tibbitts, a chemical engineer who had a company that made motors and docking stations for NASA, partnered with American Family Insurance, which invested in Groove’s technology, and Sprint, which agreed to allow Katasi to use its network to stop texts, Richtel writes.
YT describes Katasi’s plans for the device:
In order for Groove to work seamlessly, it relies heavily on the partnership with mobile phone carriers. Katasi is working actively with two U.S. carriers to deploy Groove in 2015, but this, according to Tibbitts, is not enough. ‘Our goal is to have every carrier on board with Groove, providing the capability to limit distractions before they get to the phone when a subscriber is driving,’ he said.
Tibbitts set out to come up with a solution for the problem of texting while driving after his colleague Dave Sueper was struck and killed by a distracted teen driver who ran a red light on May 8, 2008, as Sueper was driving to a business meeting with Tibbitts, YT writes.
The challenges of creating an end to texting while driving are many, YT writes. Previous attempts by others to solve the problem have used apps that disable distracting features on cell phones by connecting with GPS signals to know when a cell phone is moving at speeds greater than 10 miles per hour. But drivers can overrule such apps. And further, the apps cannot know whether the cell phone (and the person with it) is traveling by car, bus, bicycle, or any other means over 10 miles per hour, YT writes.
On Katasi’s website, CEO Tibbitts writes that because of “an overwhelming positive response to Katie Couric and Good Morning America segments this week,” many people have been asking where they can get Groove. The company writes that it can use the public’s help to hasten the schedule for when Groove will come to market, and to make it available via all U.S. mobile carriers. Tibbitts writes: “Please click on the links to contribute to the cause, contact your Washington representatives for support, and keep connected for updates with your particular Carrier.”