We spend a lot of time writing about the problem of distracted driving and various solutions offered by app-makers and automakers. With few exceptions, though, handset manufacturers like Apple and Samsung haven't been working overtime to address the public's concerns about texting and talking behind the wheel.
Cue serial innovator Joey Cofone, working with partners Michael Vanderbyl and Malin Reedijk. According to Mashable, they've conceived of something called "car mode" for the Apple iPhone that could theoretically reduce the number of distracted drivers on the road.
Much like the "airplane mode" with which most of us are familiar, "car mode" would largely cut off an iPhone from both the internet and the cellular network (though certain functions like navigation and music wouldn't be affected). Also like airplane mode, Cofone and his collaborators envision car mode as something that's built into the iPhone's operating system, rather than a separate app.
In its current design, car mode uses Bluetooth to pair the iPhone with a particular vehicle. When that vehicle begins moving, car mode kicks in, sending voice calls directly to voicemail, and sending an autoreply to texters explaining that the phone is in car mode.
If that sounds familiar, it should. A number of companies like Cellcontrol have conceived of similar anti-distracted-driving services that activate without user input. Those services typically work through apps rather than the operating system; however, in terms of functionality, they offer essentially the same benefits (and shortcomings) as car mode.
But the industrial design gurus behind the AIGA's Command X competition don't seem to care about such similarities. They awarded Cofone top honors for the car mode concept -- although to the best of our knowledge, Apple hasn't yet reached out to the designers.
Serial texters: does car mode seem like the answer to your distracted-driving habit? Check out the video overview above, and weigh in below.