New Anti-Distracted-Driving Tech Prevents Your Fingers From Texting
Distracted Driving: Fight Technology with Technology
In an effort to combat the dangers of texting behind the wheel, several states are about to adopt new, advanced technology designed to block smartphone use. Called the FingerLokk, this cutting-edge device fastens on to the fingers of a driver, preventing him or her from texting on a touch-screen smartphone.
Developed by LifeSafer, one of the leaders in the field of anti-drunk-driving ignition interlock technology, the FingerLokk works by covering the fingers with caps which make it impossible to press the letters on a smartphone keyboard. Electronic sensors prevent a car from starting if the driver is not wearing a full set of five interlock caps on the fingertips of each hand.
The FingerLokk also prevents a user from trying to bypass the device: it employs a fingerprint sensor that blocks anyone but the assigned driver from wearing the caps. If the driver tries to give them to a passenger to wear instead, the ignition cuts off. Moreover, all ten caps must be worn: if the driver tries to leave a finger exposed to text with, the car won’t start.
The FingerLokk is simple to operate. When all ten caps are on the driver’s fingers, a unit on the dashboard signals “OK to Start” and the vehicle will operate. If the finger caps are removed while driving, the vehicle’s headlights flash and the horn sounds a pre-programmed tune such as Nickelback’s “Rock Star,” forcing the driver to pull over and replace the caps. The unit can also send a text to the user’s family with messages like, “Matt is trying to text and drive. Maybe you should have a talk.”
Since texting and driving are now illegal in many states, judges can order the FingerLokk device as a condition of restoring driving privileges after a violation.
Adapting Anti-DUI Measures to Distracted Driving
The FingerLokk was inspired by the success of ignition interlock devices, which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Currently 25 states mandate the use of ignition interlocks for all DUI offenses. Law enforcement officials are hopeful that the FingerLokk will do the same for texting violations.
This is a big step in the battle against distracted driving,” said Fred Durst, Jr., LifeSafer’s marketing director. “How often have you wanted to just grab the fingers of someone texting and driving and tell them to drop their phone? That’s what the FingerLokk does.”
Durst admits it takes a few minutes to get used to driving with caps on all ten fingers, but once you do, it becomes second nature. “Just be careful if you have an itchy eye and need to scratch,” says Durst. “The caps are pretty hard.”
The device also discourages fiddling with the car’s audio settings and climate controls, but experts consider this an advantage as well, since those activities can also pose distraction risks.
Analysts predict that the new distracted driving device will be popular with parents, who will order them for their teenagers as a condition for allowing them a smartphone. Barry Noyes of the Silicon Valley trendspotting firm Signal2Noyes said, “Up to now, we thought of digital technology in terms of zeroes and ones. But fingers are digits too. So this is really a new digital trend that will make our roads safer.” A similar device for toes designed to combat “lead foot,” or excessive speeding, will be unveiled in the third quarter.
It was exactly one year ago that LifeSafer announced its first non-automotive application, TatScat, designed for tattoo parlors.