The new 'Wake Me App' is designed to keep sleepy drivers feeling awake and focused on the road. The new 'Wake Me App' is designed to keep sleepy drivers feeling awake and focused on the road. The new 'Wake Me App' is designed to keep sleepy drivers feeling awake and focused on the road. (Photo: Anze Mulec / Shutterstock)

Ford hackathon winner helps drivers stay awake at the wheel

'Wake Me App' takes home the top prize in a 24-hour challenge to revolutionize the future of connected vehicles.

When it comes to long road trips that shift from day to night, we've likely all experienced that moment where the urge to sleep begins to interfere with our focus behind the wheel. To counter our eyelids from working against us, remedies such as louder music, conversations with friends, and other snap-out-of-it distractions are often employed. But what if your car knew when you were exhausted and could trigger these helpful actions immediately?

The answer to this question and many more was born out of the recent 24-hour SYNC AppLink Developer Challenge in Tel Aviv, Israel. Organized by the Ford Motor Company, it's one in a series of "hackathon" events the U.S. auto giant has backed in countries around the world. The idea is to bring entrepreneurs, tech teams and independent developers together under one roof to design the next-generation of innovative apps for Ford's SYNC touchscreen dashboard.

Pavel Kaminsky (left) and Shay Mishali, creators of the 'Wake Me App,' stand in front of a Ford Fiesta they won at the event.Pavel Kaminsky (left) and Shay Mishali, creators of the 'Wake Me App,' stand in front of a Ford Fiesta they won at the event. (Photo: Shai Mishali/Facebook)

The winner of last weekend's challenge was the "Wake Me App," created by developers Pavel Kaminsky and Shay Mishali to help drowsy drivers avoid falling asleep behind the wheel. At the first sign of fatigue, the app initiates a series of alerts – from raising the volume of music playing to audible alarms. If these audible cues fail to help, the app will then send calls or text message alerts to designated contacts on the driver's smartphone; encouraging some human intervention to prevent an accident.

Apps like "Wake Me" have the potential to save thousands of lives around the world annually. In the United States alone, 25% of all fatal car crashes are directly tied to people falling asleep at the wheel. With hackathons like the one in Israel, Ford is not only leveraging the world's best startup ecosystems to revolutionize the connected car, but make it safer too.

“Tel Aviv has an amazing base of tech developers, and the talent and creativity we saw from the participating teams has been remarkable,” said Scott Lyons, business and partner development, Connected Vehicle and Services, Ford of Europe. “Wake Me App stood out because of its innovative use of the new SYNC AppLink developer tools that leverage vehicle information to create dynamic apps in the car.”

Other winning apps designed during the hackathon included Karpoolz, a carpooling app for parents to manage their kids’ after-school and social activities and Green Light, which gives a countdown to upcoming traffic signals.

Ford hosts these hackathons throughout the year. Below is a video from one in Los Angeles this summer. The next search for innovation from the international developer community will take place November 2-3rd in Dublin, Ireland.

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