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Application disables smart phones in moving cars

When Darcy Ahl’s 16-year-old son tried to answer his cellphone while driving with her on the interstate she was rattled to the core. The car started swerving and Ahl frantically instructed her son to end the call.

“I wondered to myself what would have happened if I hadn’t told him to hang the phone up,” the Darien, Conn., resident said. “I wondered what would have happened if I weren’t there.”

Immediately after that scare, Ahl, an executive recruiter, went back to her office to figure out a way to keep teenage drivers from using their phones while driving. By the following morning, the mother of three had come up with an idea for a smart phone application that prevents drivers from talking or texting while driving.

Illume Software, which Ahl co-founded, recently began selling the application, dubbed https://comiZUP, online.

The application uses GPS technology to detect a car’s speed. If the car is traveling faster than 5 mph, the software application sends incoming calls directly to voice mail and holds text messages. It also blocks outgoing text messages and calls, except 911 calls.

Account holders can customize the software to allow calls to or from particular numbers, such as a parent’s phone.

The application is teenager-tamper-proof, according to the Concord, Mass., company. If it is successfully uninstalled, the account holder will immediately receive an e-mail alert.

I downloaded iZUP onto an Android G1 phone and tested it over several days . . . while riding in the passenger seat. While the car was in motion, iZUP held my phone hostage. It didn’t allow me to do anything but call authorized numbers. When I tried to answer incoming calls, I’d hear music instead of the caller’s voice.

For now, the application is available only for Blackberry devices and handsets that run on Windows Mobile and Android operating software. It costs $4.95 for a monthly subscription or $49.95 for a year, with family rates available.

melissa.rohlin@latimes.com


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