In the military it's called "mission creep," when the quick little job you intended to do turns into something big and ugly. In science, it's called "progress." What started out as a quick little way to keep folks from texting while driving has turned into a way to track how and where you drive so that that information can be reported to your insurance agency.
Key2SafeDriving utilizes a wireless transponder attached to your car key, which then communicates with software installed on your cell phone. When you slide the key out of the housing to start the car, the transponder enters "drive" mode and jams the cell phone that it's paired with, ensuring that the driver is unable to send texts or make phone calls. The transponder is paired with one particular phone, so no one but the driver is affected. That's the part that is supposed to make a lot of teens safer and a lot of parents happier.

But while the researchers were twiddling with the phone software, somehow they enabled it to keep track of the "vehicle's location, speed, sudden breaking [sic] and the running of lights." We have no idea how they managed to get your phone to know when you've run a red light or when you've stabbed the brakes, but that's what they're advertising. The upshot is that your driving data stored in the phone will be matched with a traffic database, and that information will be used to establish a "safety score" that will be sent to your insurance company each week. See how they did that? Teen safety turns into 1984. We think we'll just turn our phones off when we drive...


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