We’ve all been guilty of it at some point: Texting while driving, or driving while “intexticated.”
Unfortunately, this type of momentary distraction is the cause of half of all car crashes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Now, Israeli startup ProjectRay is developing a gadget that will help you avoid texting while driving, potentially saving the lives of thousands of people.
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According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are close to 33,000 fatal car accidents in the US every year. Since the risk of getting into a car crash is 23 times higher when texting, ProjectRay – which previously focused on communication tools for the blind – has decided to put an end to the problem, by freeing your eyes to focus solely on the road ahead.
Founded in 2011, Project Ray recently completed a successful Indiegogo campaign for a new product called RayGo. It is a simple, five-button Bluetooth device that clips to the steering wheel (or handlebar for cyclists), which allows for voice control of your smartphone. RayGo lets you safely use your favorite apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Gmail and Skype while driving or biking. The gadget allows you to put your phone on “drive mode,” replacing touch-screen gestures with simple key presses on the controller, which is right there where your hands hold the steering wheel. One press of a button turns your favorite apps into voice-activated ones, through which messages are read to you aloud.
“Preventing deadly situations”
Five seconds is usually the amount of time one would take their eyes off the road to look at their cellphone. It may sound like nothing, but for a vehicle going 55 miles per hour, that’s enough time to travel the entire length of a football field while not looking at the road. RayGo is aimed at minimizing that. “If you’re driving, you can spot many people texting and being distracted by their phones. We’re preventing potentially deadly situations”, Project Ray CEO Boaz Zilberman tells NoCamels.
But RayGo isn’t the only solution; many cars now have built-in voice recognition systems and mobile apps such as Israel’s Bazz are on the rise. This startup has developed sophisticated Android-based voice recognition software that allows drivers to listen to the content of a written message (SMS and WhatsApp) and reply to it, using voice commands, hands free.
Zilberman admits that to stay safe, the ultimate solution would be to not use your phone while driving all, but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Since it’s extremely difficult to deter people from doing that – hefty fines and police citations have not eliminated the problem – RayGo’s solution is “the next best thing,” Zilberman says.
The crowds seem to agree with that, as RayGo’s Indiegogo campaign, which recently ended, had raised $32,570, surpassing its goal of $30,000 in one month. The money is expected to go towards the actual manufacturing of the product (for Android only at this time) later this year. Ray GO will retail for $69, which includes both the device and the smartphone application. Zilberman says that 1,000 units will ship by October, and feedback from users will dictate development going forward.
Photos and videos: ProjectRay, Intel Free Press