We've seen plenty of apps that address the problem of distracted driving -- and given the growing number of traffic fatalities linked to distraction, a solution can't come too soon.
Unfortunately, most of those apps have a fair share of flaws. Many can be disabled or removed at the whim of the phone's owner. Others activate when they detect the phone traveling at a particular speed, meaning that users can lose access to their phones even when they're a passenger in a car, bus, or train.
A new gadget from ORIGO called ORIGOSafe seems to work around many of those problems. It's not without its shortcomings, and we're not sure about its future prospects, but it's definitely worth a look.
What separates ORIGOSafe from other distracted driving solutions is that it's more hardware than software. It is, quite literally, a safe for the driver's cell phone. And unless that phone is inserted in the ORIGOSafe, the car won't start.
But that doesn't render the phone completely useless. The driver can still take and make calls via Bluetooth, and the phone can be used to stream music, use voice navigation, and perform other functions. And while it's plugged in to ORIGOSafe, it's also being charged -- a handy bonus.
According to a company press release, a driver can remove the phone once the vehicle is started, however:
If the phone is removed from the docking station at any time during a trip, ORIGOSafe will sound an alarm until the phone is replaced. The next time the driver tries to start the vehicle, he or she must contact the administrator in order for the phone to be reauthorized. These settings are completely configurable by the administrator.
If the phone is lost or stolen, a One Time Use code can be obtained from the administrator to start the vehicle.
If the vehicle is taken to be serviced, or left with a valet, simply provide the guest driver with the PIN you have created, and he or she will be able to operate the vehicle normally.
In other words, ORIGOSafe is designed to keep phones completely out of drivers' hands, minimizing distractions.
That said, the device clearly has a few flaws:
At the moment, ORIGOSafe only works with iPhones. That's not such great news for the growing number of Android handset users. UPDATE: The device also works with the Android handset the Samsung Galaxy S3.
The PIN sounds like a major loophole. If a valet or service technician can use it multiple times to start the car, what's to stop the driver from doing the same?
At $279, it's not exactly cheap.
How will this work with future technologies, like Google Glass or the rumored Apple Watch? Those gadgets may be a couple of years away from broad adoption, but a car's lifespan is far longer. Can ORIGOSafe be hacked to accommodate those devices, too?
Would you use a device like ORIGOSafe? Or do you have another solution (possibly sheer willpower) to address the problem of distracted driving? Check out the video above and leave us your comments below.