Figuring out a way to prevent distracted driving may prove to be one of the greatest life-saving inventions of the early 21st Century. The last few years of rising traffic fatalities suggest that we humans simply can't be trusted not to fiddle and futz with those teeny black mirrors we all keep in our pockets nowadays; tens of thousands of people in America alone die or are injured every year as a result of drivers being distracted by their cravings for the momentary dopamine hits provided by social media notifications or incoming text messages.
As a result of the incredible potential of the market—after all, while technology companies want you to use your gadgets as much as possible, they also want you alive to buy the next version—companies across the planet have begun investigating ways to keep drivers from being distracted by technology while driving. Apple, for example, has patented a system that would use the Apple Watch to detect when a user is driving and minimize the distracting notifications.
But Racelogic, the U.K.-based company that builds the VBox automotive data logger, has come up with another solution: Using the driver's body as a conduit for a signal that shuts down smartphones when he or she touches them while the car is in motion.
The system, known as TouchLock, utilizes a small electrical transmitter placed beneath the driver's seat that sends a low-energy current through the seat and its occupant. When the device detects that the car is moving, it uses the current to send a signal through the driver to any phone he or she is touching, locking out all those distracting functions that could cause him or her to accidentally punt the car into a wall.
Racelogic swears the system is harmless to the driver—obviously, as we doubt many governments would legalize a system that risks electrocuting the operator of a moving motor vehicle. And given much of the human body is awash in low-voltage electrical signals, adding a little more to the system in the name of responsible driving doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice.
But it's still a little creepy.