Damian Mehers' Blog Android, VR and Wearables from Geneva, Switzerland.

11Oct/140

A useful in-car app experience

OK, I admit it: I can't help it. Whenever I hit a problem in the real world, I automatically seek to solve it, often through the hammer in my virtual toolbox, which is creating apps.

So what does this have to do with driving my kids home from school? There are traffic lights on the route. Lots and lots of them. Like all of you, I am sure, I never look at my phone screen when I am driving and the car is in motion, but when the car is stopped in front of traffic lights, it is often hard to resist quickly checking my email, or twitter, or whatever.

Of course that is a trap. Before I know it I've been sucked into my digital world, and am oblivious to the real world, until I am rudely and abruptly pulled out of it by the honking horn of the person behind me.

So what I want is this: An app that lets me use my phone as normal, but in the background, using the camera on my phone, locks in on to the red light of the traffic light, detects when an orange light appears next to it, and alerts me both audibly and visually that the lights are changing.

I'd even use it when I'm not looking at my phone, but instead lost in dreamy reverie, lost in my own thoughts,and equally oblivious to the lights changing.

But this is only part of my master plan. Oh no, it is not all.

Sometimes I'm stopped while in the car, and it isn't a traffic light that has stopped me. Instead it is a traffic jam. Like all of you, I am sure, I dream of being able to launch a small drone from my car to fly overhead to the front of the jam, to understand what is happening, and how long I will be stuck for. The drone would be paired with my phone, letting me control it from my phone, and beam back images to my phone.

It occurs to me that the whole drone thing is unnecessarily, potentially dangerous, and more than likely illegal. Instead all I need is an app that everyone on the traffic jam uses to broadcast live the scene in front of them. Then people far back from the front of the jam can zoom through the cameras, rushing forward car by car through the jam to the front, to understand what is happening.

With appropriate anonymizing safeguards in place (number plate blurring) it could also be used by news organizations and the emergency services.

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