Motor-Monitoring App Clock Teen Drivers’ Every Move

A new Android app allows parents to peep their teens’ driving habits even when they’re not along for the ride. The iGaurdian Teen application records a car’s speed, start and end points (via GPS), and distance traveled. It also monitors distracted driving (behind-the-wheel chatting or texting), and aggressive driving  (hard breaking, fast turns and quick acceleration). After each trip is complete, the app gathers all this info and emails it to the driver’s parents for review. And if a teen wants to bypass big brother by turning the app off? It will email her parents to let them know that the app has been deactivated.

Sound like dream app for overbearing parents and a nightmare for teens? Well, on the upshot, the app will also text a parent when a teen driver has been in an accident, allowing them to get to the scene as quickly as possible. When it comes to freaky fender benders,  nothing can be better than your parents showing up on the scene with a hug and promise that everything will be alright.

Technology can be great and all, but when it’s used to track your every move, it can feel a little too Orwellian.

What do you think of a monitoring apps like these?

Would you freak if your parents installed an app like this on your phone?


iPhone App Finds Parking Places For You

A new iPhone app, Parker, gives drivers real-time deets on available parking spots near you.  Well, if you live in Hollywood, that is.

How does it work? Streetline (the app maker) placed sensors in parking spots throughout 20-blocks of Hollywood in Los  Angeles. The sensors ping vacant and occupied info to receivers on nearby lamp poles, then to an info hub in Dallas and finally on to the iPhone app. The app uses Google maps to direct users to the available spots.

Roosevelt Island in NYC and Fort Totton Metro station in Washington DC will be equipped with the sensors next. The service will expand to Salt Lake City later this year. Streetline is also working to get the app on other smartphone operating systems. [via USA Today]


Gadget of the Week: ShaggyTags

For the hardcore pet lover, there’s ShaggyTag ($18), animal tags fashioned like state-issued drivers licenses that give your pet’s vital stats, including address and breed.

The company makes them for all 50 states and if the owner want’s a matching tag for herself, she can order a custom key chain to resemble the pet’s “license.”

Auto Gadget of the Week: Remote Start Systems

These suckers are admittedly pricey. But they’re also really cool, especially for peeps living in frigid temps.

With remote systems, drivers can start their cars while still inside the house, allowing it to warm up before you jump in.

Make sure you find a model that will only start while in park, an auto-off feature that will activate when the engine starts to get too hot and a feature that ensures the car doesn’t start while the hood is up. Pricing varies from about $100 to $800.

Auto Gadget of The Week: AAA Battery Tender

AAA is best known for its roadside assistance services, but the auto club also markets gear for your ride.

The AAA Battery Tender is a must have for any student driver who is leaving town–and her car–for the summer.  When cars aren’t started regularly, the battery can lose its charge. This gadget keeps your car battery charged when parked for long periods of time, ensuring you don’t get stuck when you’re ready to rev it up again.

The battery tender retails for $40, but a $10 discounts is given to AAA members who purchase a unit through a AAA club.

Insane, But True: Laptop Steering Wheel Desk Sold on Amazon

Don't try this at home.

So, clearly this is a bad idea. Hideously bad. Comically bad. With all the distracted driving legislation being pushed though right now, who in their right minds would market a laptop holder for while behind the wheel?

On the other hand, it does make for hilarious fodder in the Amazon comments section. Here are a few precious gems:

Wow is this thing great! I use it as a “mini-bar” when the friends and I go out to the bars. I can quickly fix multiple shots of tequila for myself and the friends as we drive from one bar to the next. We also discovered that if you place a pillow on top of it and turn on the cruise control you can catch quick naps on the interstate. If you swerve to the left or right the rumble strips on the road wake you up in plenty of time before you get into trouble. I can now take longer trips without being tired!

I loved my Laptop Steering Wheel Desk so much I got one for my 90yr old mother. She is an avid crossword puzzle fan and now she can work on them while she is driving back and forth from bingo at the senior center. One cautionary note be careful of those jerks that stop at yellow lights, my poor mother rear ended one and the airbag drove the desk back into her stomach which ruptured her spleen, well after a short down time I’m glad to say she is back on the road and cranking out those NY Times crosswords once again. Thanks Laptop Steering Wheel Desk you have made my mothers life more complete.


Phone Monitoring Service Gives Parents Total Control Over Your Cellie

More parental control software revealed at CES last weekend. One of the new services introduced  is Protector, which lets parents monitor their kids cell phone activity while driving.

Once the software is activated, parents can control the contact lists, calls, texts, emails, photos and videos of their teen’s phone. They can also automatically limit specific phone functions once the teen starts one of the family cars. The service will also notify parents when a teen driver speeds or are out past their curfews.

But Protector doesn’t just allow parental take-over of your cellie when you’re behind the wheel; It allows total take-over anytime.

Whenever a new number pops up on a teen’s phone, the parent can approve or deny the call from going through. Or if a number of a buddy who happens to fall on a parent’s shitlist pops up on a teen’s phone, the parent can ixnay that too, and prevent that person from ever getting another call through to their teen again.  And if a teen is on the phone with your BF or BFF, a parent can interrupt the conversation to push their own call through.

Protector also allows the controller to see images and photos before the teen does and must approve them before the MMS goes through. They can disable all of the teen’s phone’s functions (save emergency calling) for specific periods of time, like when the teen is in school, at church or sitting at the dinner table.

Call, text and MMS pre-appoval not enough? Parents also track their kid’s every move by getting a location-by-location run-down of everywhere they’ve been that day. They can also set-up auto-alerts of when they’ve left home or gotten to school.

How does it work?

The software is managed through a control panel on a smart phone, computer or smart TV. Parents who use the software suddenly have a say in who their kid talks to and can see realtime phone usage  and driving behavior. They can change permission settings instantly as well. Kids and parents don’t even have to be on the same mobile network for the software to work.

Protector uses GPS to track a kid’s location, driving habits and release records to authorities in case of an emergency or accident.

While all of this sounds a little too 1984 to us, the software does include some cool features, like one-touch dialing for emergency situations that will hit all of a parents phone lines by call, text and email simultaneously to let them know something’s wrong. The service has a one-touch family tree type of call that will auto-dial the first to last most important people on your emergency call list until a person picks up. And it uses GPS to call the person with the closest physical proximity to your location when dialing in emergency mode.

Teens with Protector-enabled phones can also wriggle out of unwanted social situations by pressing a button that makes their phone look like they’re receiving a call from their parents.

Taser International designed and marketed as a tool for parents want to protect their children…but at what point does “monitoring” become snooping?

Why shouldn’t a parent just confront a teen directly when it comes to shady friends or dicey phone habits?

And what’s to stop a suspicious boyfriend or backstabbing frenemy from hacking into your phone using this service?

Finally, how is a Protector-equipped phone going to really ingrain the rules of the road into a new driver?

If your parents used Protector on your phone, would you buy a cheap burner phone to get around the snooping?