Mobile technology companies rollout devices for on the road

 

From more user-friendly guidance systems to fatigue monitors, firms are focusing on portable products that make driving safer and easier

THE WORLD’S of motoring and mobiles seem to be converging, despite the rule and regulations on using the devices while driving. At this month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, driver fatigue warning systems, more user-friendly GPS and in-car internet-enabled devices all featured prominently.

While the conference is usually dominated by mobile phone handsets and applications, there was plenty of new developments to help make driving safer, easier, and in some cases, more entertaining. ASP Technology, which has developed a dash-mounted device that monitors a driver’s fatigue levels in real-time, unveiled an app for the iPhone and iPad at the exhibition.

The Anti Sleep Pilot app works on the same basis as the dash device, and calculates a driver’s alertness to decide when it’s time to take a break. The ASP system uses an algorithm that evaluates 26 different factors to monitor fatigue levels as you drive. Using a risk profile that is calculated from information such as age, sex and numbers of hours worked per week, the app takes into account the drive distance and time of day, it uses a series of light and sound tests to monitor reaction times and alerts them when they are too tired to drive.

Demonstrating the device, the company said the system could save thousands of lives every year by making drivers aware of their fatigue levels.

The application is currently available from Apple’s App Store, and ASP is also working on versions for other smartphones.

Meanwhile, Israeli firm Iway took the opportunity to show off its in-car system. The Comodo console has a 4.3-inch touch screen, a rear camera for reversing, and a GPS antenna and mobile modem to keep you connected.

There are 80 apps available for the system, and users can also receive email while on the move. When the car is moving, video content is blocked. The push to make GPS systems more user friendly continued at Mobile World Congress. Mapping technology firm Navteq demonstrated its Natural Guidance system on a smartphone at the event.

Natural Guidance, which was unveiled last year, is intended to make your GPS more like a friend sitting in the passenger seat providing directions.

Instead of telling you to “turn left in 500 metres”, it uses local knowledge to be more user-friendly – “turn left after the yellow shop”, or “turn right before the pub”.

With one eye on future motoring developments, Nokia Siemens Networks and Smartlab have teamed up to develop software that will allow electric car users to recharge their vehicles across Europe.

Anticipating a number of different methods of authenticating users at charging stations across the continent, such as RFID cards and mobile phones, the two companies have developed E-clearing.net. This will allow identifying user data to be securely exchanged between different suppliers to facilitate electricity roaming.

“Drivers of electric vehicles demand a solution to use the charging infrastructure in other cities within a country as well as in foreign countries without additional registration effort,” said Lothar Stoll, head of new markets and customers Europe for Nokia Siemens Networks.

“To offer that, energy providers need an infrastructure solution for e-roaming, which is similar to the successful mobile phone services roaming in telecommunications. It enables standardised authentication and billing in networks run by different operators.”