Global Mobile Alert collaborates with U.S. DoT on connected car

Global Mobile Alert (GMA), a small company that got its start after its founder was hit--not once, but twice--by distracted drivers, is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Transportation to create a universal standard for, among other things, communicating the phases of traffic lights and other road conditions to drivers using mobile devices.

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Thompson (Source: Global Mobile Alert)

GMA, a start-up founded by Demetrius Thompson in 2005, has patented methods by which drivers will be alerted automatically to road conditions that warrant their full attention. The technology automatically delivers audio and visual alerts to drivers with the goal of mitigating distraction and preventing accidents. Thompson founded the company after he was injured as a pedestrian by a car driven by a distracted driver.

GMA's solution works with handheld smartphones or wireless devices built into cars. Warnings are pre-set to activate only when the driver is distracted. "Once fully integrated, GMA's wireless technology will reduce distracted driving and reduce collisions, especially at intersections, which is where most accidents occur," according to a press release.

GMA backers say the technology may prove useful for drivers who are unfamiliar with an area, for example, or perhaps Uber drivers who are dropping off or picking up passengers. Last month, reports surfaced that Uber bought mapping company deCarta for an undisclosed sum. deCarta has been providing Navteq map data to GMA.

And while the alerts might sound counterintuitive--adding an audible distraction--GMA's patent applies to any system that is aware of intersections, et cetera, and is capable of alerting a driver on the phone, notes industry analyst Roger Lanctot, associate director, global automotive practice, at Strategy Analytics.

Thompson also has a patent for wirelessly communicating the signal phase and timing of a light, which is exactly the type of applications that are envisioned in connected car and connected infrastructure models. "Together, these patents are core elements of the kind of contextual vehicle connectedness envisioned" by the supporters of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure, or V2X technology, Lanctot told FierceWirelessTech

GMA is one of the companies involved in the U.S. DoT's connected vehicle test bed that includes 5.9 GHz dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) infrastructure and device makers. GMA's "Pull Over to Text" app also is available for Android on Google Play.

CTIA and its member companies have conducted educational campaigns since 2000 to remind drivers, especially teens and inexperienced drivers, about the dangers of distracted driving. Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that distracted driving accounted for 3,331 fatalities in 2011.

For more:
- see the press release

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