Breakthrough Technology Reads Messages to You, Puts Brakes on Danger
Years ago, no one would have ever thought to do something as dangerous as read or type a business letter while driving. Today, it’s standard operating procedure for millions of people. So hooked on “staying connected,” many people can’t ignore their Blackberrys while driving, even though they know it’s dangerous — an alarming trend. A recent U.S. survey by Nationwide Insurance found that one in five people text while driving. The numbers jump to one in three among 18–34 year olds. Even more disturbing, insurers predict this trend will only increase as more and more people get access to mobile devices with messaging technologies.
The consequences of reading email while driving can be horrific. That’s what led USTelematics, Inc. to focus on creating technology to keep drivers connected to their messages and their steering wheel. The result: Vivee, short for Voice Interactive Voice Enhanced Email. Vivee is an amazing new service that reads your email or text to you. Vivee actually talks; a little animated character or ‘avatar’ appears on the screen of your device and appears to speak incoming messages to you. Your hands stay on the wheel and your eyes stay on the road, where they belong.
“Safety should be our primary concern when driving — that’s what makes Vivee such a remarkable and timely development,” says Charlene Montalbano, Product Manager of USTelematics, Inc. “Insurance studies show that distracted drivers cause 80% of all traffic crashes, so several states already have laws banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving. Now, lawmakers are becoming more precise and targeted in the approach to eliminating driver distractions by considering laws that specifically ban text messaging and reading email while driving. Vivee will not only keep your focus safely on the road, ultimately, ‘she’ may help you avoid a ticket.”
When you have incoming emails or texts, Vivee alerts you so that you can listen to your messages instead of trying to read them. Vivee connects to the Internet through the Verizon Wireless EVDO high-speed network. When Vivee is fully installed in any compatible device, it also brings full wireless Internet connectivity with it, at speeds on par with many DSL services.
While Vivee has broad appeal to just about anyone, Montalbano says another practical benefit is for individuals with vision problems. “We are excited about the adaptive possibilities Vivee offers,” says Montalbano. “Vivee speaks and reads messages — this will level the playing field in business and education for those with vision disabilities. The ability to receive emails and texts without human assistance may change the lives of many people.”
Vivee was created after USTelematics’ CEO Howard Leventhal had a close call with his six-year-old daughter in the car. “Howard was driving about 45mph while texting and he looked up to see a car 100 feet ahead of him — fully stopped,” says Montalbano. “He slammed on the brakes and stopped just inches shy of impact. Later that night after the adrenalin wore off, the idea for Vivee popped into his head.”
It would have been preferable for Leventhal to come to the conclusion to just stop texting while driving. And it would be far healthier and safer for all if we just focused on driving while driving and not multi-tasking. However one cannot dispute that some of the greatest technological advances have occurred under stressful conditions.