• Dec 5, 2011
With every state looking to enact (or having already passed) legislation that makes it illegal to operate a mobile phone while behind the wheel, researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology and Rutgers in New Jersey are taking it one massive step further.

A team led by Drs. Yingying Chen, Marco Gruteser, and Richard Martin have created a system that utilizes a phone's Bluetooth connection and a vehicle's speakers to detect if the driver is using their handheld while driving. The algorithm-based system measures the acoustic signals emitted from the stereo and the proximity of the phone to the Bluetooth receiver, essentially pinging both systems to determine where the phone is being operated. If the signals are coming from the driver's seat, it can shut down the phone with 95 percent accuracy, or around 80 percent if the phone is stashed in a cupholder or cubby.

Obviously, the system is designed to allow passengers to use their phones while the vehicle is in motion, but the biggest hurdles to overcome include the amount of road, wind and background noise interfering with the acoustic signals and a general lack of Bluetooth connectivity in most vehicles. Now the doctors just need an automaker to partner with...


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  • 46 Comments
      OnTheRocks
      • 3 Years Ago
      So the thing doesn't work if the phones bluetooth is off. Won't this just encourage more people to turn off their BT and start using their phones with their hands again?
        SeanR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @OnTheRocks
        pretty much. nice idea, retarded execution
        Mdriftda
        • 3 Years Ago
        @OnTheRocks
        lol so true.
        oRenj9
        • 3 Years Ago
        @OnTheRocks
        I leave bluetooth off all the time anyway, it chews up battery life.
      Kepe
      • 3 Years Ago
      Who the hell is going to buy a car that shuts down their phone? Or who even wants to make a car that does that? This is once again a great example of nannying people for no reason whatsoever. At least I don't want someone else to decide what I can or can't do. Also, this technology requires your phone to have some sort of an app that keeps the phone's microphone open when connected to the car with bluetooth. So basically your car is constantly listening to you when you are in your car. I don't want that. There have been enough scandals about spying on what people do with their phones. This is a great opportunity for car companies to listen to you. The technology would also increase power consumption on your phone, which is absolutely something I do not want. Modern phones have a horrible battery life anyways.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kepe
        [blocked]
          WillieD
          • 3 Years Ago
          Please! Don't do that, Uncle Sam! But seriously, I think an IQ might be a good idea, as well as the test to make sure you know which pedal is which.
      That Kid
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is what our supposedly brightest minds are working on: big brother technology to take the ability to make a good or bad decision while driving out of your hands? While I can't say I approve, at the rate they're going I can expect that public transit is going to look a lot more attractive in the very near future. What's the sense in wasting all that extra energy on a personal car if your independence and the modicum of privacy we now have in our cars is gone? By that point you'd be stuck with the responsibility of having to insure it, maintain it, and repair it with almost none of the benefits that now come along with owning a car.
      Maverick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Most of the laws banning the use of phones are for the use of the handset itself, whether it be holding the device to talk or text. Hands free devices like Bluetooth are allowed and encouraged. What exactly is the point of this system?
      Xedicon
      • 3 Years Ago
      So basically, they're targeting people who're operating a cell phone in the safest manner possible while driving a car. My car has bluetooth with steering wheel controls - I literally move one finger to take a call and talk, never even have to look, and it's no different than talking to a passenger. This is a far, far cry from having to hold a phone while driving, let alone texting while driving. So what's next? No talking allowed in a car? No passengers allowed at all in case they fart and it's distracting? Sigh.
        bman78
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Xedicon
        we need to start teaching our kids to drive at a younger age and build a talent for driving. when my dad taught me how to turn into a skid it was one of the scariest things but after practice it became easier. this cell phone thing is a joke.
      anonymous guy
      • 3 Years Ago
      If states are so worried about driver distraction, why are roadside billboards still legal? Their sole purpose is to take your eyes off the road to read/view the content of the billboard.
      Leather Bear
      • 3 Years Ago
      But what if I'm driving my Lexus and the throttle suddenly sticks wide-open? How will I be able to call the Highway Patrol so they can tell me how to stop my car?
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Hotsuye
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh you put a bluetooth cell phone disabler in the new car I want? Then I'm prying it out of the car after I buy it.
      EUniqe
      • 3 Years Ago
      This technology will never see the light of day.
      SloopJohnB
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just turn on the speaker and put the phone in the passenger seat. Works well.
      Typesbad
      • 3 Years Ago
      I simply do not buy into the idea that using a hands-free device is inherently dangerous. They might as well declare conversations among vehicle occupants illegal. The technology to detect that has been around for a long time. If they just continue to go after who is holding a handset to their ear, they will remain plenty busy and keep the revenue coming in just fine for a while to come.
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