Do you text and drive? Well there’s a new device that can help you focus on the road ahead.
Distracted driving is a serious issue – more than 3,000 people died in 2013 in the US alone in accidents where they weren’t paying full attention to the road. But other than exercising more self-control there’s very little that can be done about this scourge, right? Wrong.
Meet Smartwheel, a snap-on steering wheel cover that knows whether your hands are on or off the wheel. The device is equipped with pressure-sensitive pads that can detect when a driver has one or more hands off the wheel for too long, or if they’ve got your hands too close together, which may suggest a phone is being held while driving.
Should an alarm be triggered, the cover issues visual and audio alerts to remind you to grip the wheel correctly. More importantly, it can also log your activity via Bluetooth and an app, so parents or bosses can see whether kids or employees are driving dangerously. A glowing green light at the top of the cover shows whether the system is active and the current status of your hand position.
The Smartwheel can do more than just nag. The company claims that it has the potential to allow gesture controls in future – tapping, swiping, squeezing – to allow control over phone or media playback functions, without having to remove your hands from the wheel.
The device’s only potential drawback is the fact that it can be easily removed by the user, although bosses or parents will be aware the device isn’t registering any activity, and will be able to take appropriate action – as long as they know the car is being used in the first place.
We can really see the Smartwheel taking off – particularly in fleet applications, where companies want to improve concentration levels among their drivers. It might even have a place as a permanently integrated solution.
The Smartwheel will launch in the middle of 2016 for $199 (about £135).
What do you think of the Smartwheel? Would you use it? Or do you resent the idea of being nannied? Let us know in the comments below.