App keeps an extra set of eyes on the road
Tapping into crowdsourcing, a startup aims to connect drivers, help prevent traffic accidents and more.
The reckless speeder, the weaving driver and the red-faced tailgater soon will have a new foe. The Nexar app is coming to the rescue. To help keep you safe, the innovative tool keeps an eye on dangerous drivers and alerts you when you're in close proximity to one.
The technology was recently shown off at the Code Conference in California. Developed by a tech startup in Israel, Nexar features a smartphone app that records and analyzes high risk behavior on the road. In addition, it enables a community of drivers to supply feedback manually if they witness something amiss behind the wheel.
Here's how it works: Using the camera on an iPhone mounted to your car's dashboard, the app can record if and when there's someone driving dangerously near you. That info can then be sent to nearby commuters who are also using the app to warn them.
And here's another thing it can do: If you've just avoided an accident, the app will ask if you'd like to record 20 seconds from before the event occurred until now. The video of the driver in front of you will be shared with other Nexar users in the area so they steer clear of the same incident. The company is experimenting with both visual and audio alerts.
With Nexar, drivers will be notified by an alarm when they come close enough for the app to detect and read another car’s license plate. Some privacy concerns have been raised, but more time is needed in the field to see how these issues play out.
“The idea evolved over a period of research where we looked at how we can utilize the power and capabilities of modern smartphones to prevent car accidents,” Eran Shir, Nexar co-founder and CEO, told From The Grapevine. “I’ve been fascinated with the power of crowdsourcing applications for many years.”
Nexar is not the first app to crowdsource your commute. Waze, the popular traffic app developed in Israel and acquired by Google, was at the forefront of this movement. Another app, Moovit, combines official public transit agency data with info crowdsourced from its users – now totaling over 20 million – to make getting from here to there less stressful.
Beyond preventing accidents, easing traffic woes and possibly lowering insurance premiums, Nexar has the potential to tap into the hive mind and improve the Amber Alert system as well.
The app just started in private beta, primarily in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, and it plans to add a few people from the waiting list every day. Shir anticipates Nexar’s widespread release toward the end of this year.
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