New app disables texts, e-mails while driving



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Posted on February 11, 2011 at 12:45 AM

Updated Saturday, Feb 12 at 1:17 AM

DALLAS — Maybe it's the result of a mobile workforce, but it seems society just can't put down cell phones.

"You're in your car and when that phone beeps, you want to know what just came across the phone," said Larry Eppard of MobileLutions. "Anybody who's got a smartphone who says they haven't done that is probably lying."

Texting and driving causes 200,000 accidents a year, according to the National Safety Council.

But MobileLutions, a North Texas company, created an app for that.

It's called MobiLoc.

The program virtually pushes the ignore button for you. It won't let you e-mail or text — even read messages —  any time your phone is is in motion.

"Everything is active in the background," Eppard said. "You'll continue receiving texts. You'll continue receiving e-mail. You just can't see them or view them."

Here's how it works: GPS can tell when a cell phone is moving. Anything faster than 7 mph and the app disables web browsing, e-mails and texts. Instead, a window pops up saying it's forbidden while the phone is in motion.

Unlike other similar devices some parents and teenagers use, no separate accessories are required to make MobiLoc work.

MobileLutions is giving away a basic version for free on-line on its Web site.

But the company created another one for companies that can disable different things.

"The commercial app is designed so the company can control what programs are allowed to run on the phone, what time they can run, and at what speed they become disabled," Eppard added.

The technology can also disable e-mails, web browsing, and phone service while the device is moving. But Eppard noted that 911 calls cannot be disabled.

Jani-King, a national commercial cleaning service, bought MobiLoc a month ago and is installing it on the phones of its employees across the country to protect the company from lawsuits and liability.

"We don't have that many accidents, but I do think we're having fewer already," said Jani-King spokesman Greg Kennemer. "The time, money and resources spent to address the result of an accident is far more than the meager cost of implementing this technology."

That's what the app is designed to do; return hands to the wheel and eyes to the road.