Google Might at One Point Block Your Smartphone Completely While Driving

The tech would lock the phone during driving 6 photos
Photo: Google
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Let’s be honest about it: the smartphone continues to be one of the main causes of distracted driving, and despite the bigger fines, the campaigns, and even the accidents that many have been involved in, people just can’t stop starring at their phones no matter what they do.
Both Google and Apple have released do not disturb systems that can be activated while driving, and the keyboard of systems like CarPlay and Android Auto is blocked when the car is in motion.

But it looks like the search giant is now ready to advance to the next level.

A patent called “Automated pacing of vehicle operator content interaction” and granted to Google on November 10 describes a method of determining whether a person is doing something else (such as driving) in order to block the phone completely. In other words, if you’re driving and the phone figures this out, the mobile device should be locked entirely until you pull over.

A patent drawing shows an early version of the warning displayed on the screen, with a typical “paused for safety” message presented in case the system detects you’re driving.

And now, here comes the tricky part. How is the phone able to determine you’re driving?

Naturally, it can use its sensors to determine if you’re in motion, but this wouldn’t be accurate because we’re also using our phones as passengers in cars or in public transportation. So Google has developed an attention analysis system building a personalized pattern to track how you use the device.

Using complex software, the phone would basically calculate an attention buffer, and if this value isn’t met at a specific time, the device could be able to figure out you’re doing something else and thus block the interaction with the user interface.

Certainly, this is a rather innovative approach, and the patent documents we linked to include multiple implementations Google has in mind for such a technology. And of course, everything is still in its early days, and everybody should remember that a patent isn’t by any means a guarantee a certain idea enters mass production.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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