Coming soon to your car: a smartphone app that will call 911 when you get in a car crash, but it won’t just do that. It will also notify your family and start the insurance claims process with “critical data and insights about location, conditions, time of day, speed, braking” and other information recorded by the app. It can even send an Uber your way.
This is the newest app from Boston mobility startup TrueMotion, which counts former Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith as one of its co-founders. The app, called TrueMotion Impact, was announced on Wednesday at the TU-Automotive’s Connected Car Insurance USA event in Chicago, and it’s not available quite yet.
That’s because TrueMotion is looking to sell the app to insurance providers as a way to better facilitate the insurance claims process for customers. While no insurance providers have signed up for the app yet, a few major insurers, including Progressive, are already using TrueMotion’s Usage Based Insurance service, which uses several smartphone sensors to assess driving behavior and aims to help insurers “attract and retain the safest and most profitable drivers.”
“With the rate of auto accidents increasing at an alarming rate, largely due to distracted driving, our goal is to put crash detection and assistance in the pocket of every insurer’s customer,” Vance Loiselle, CEO of TrueMotion, said in a statement.
TrueMotion Impact will become available directly to consumers later this fall as part of the startup’s TrueMotion Family app, which, like the insurance service, assesses driving behavior and gives recommendations on how to improve.
“With TrueMotion Impact we have harnessed the power of the smartphone to provide the safety benefits of in-car crash technology into an app on a smartphone,” Loiselle continued. “Soon every consumer will have access to automatic emergency response and the peace of mind that goes with it.”
So how can the app tell when you get in a car accident? And how can it discern the difference between a crash and your phone falling on the floor? The short answer is data science, but the long answer, as described in a video below, is that TrueMotion has developed its own patented technology to detect spikes in the smartphone’s accelerometers, create a fixed window around the crash, use a statistical-based sensor processing routine to extract crash signals from any noise, activate machine learning routines to make a crash prediction and then verify that prediction by checking the speed after the crash.
This technology was made possible with the creation of what TrueMotion calls the “largest known smartphone dataset of more than 3,000 live car-to-car and car-to-barrier crashes.” The startup said the app has been verified against nearly 1 million miles of actual driving data, and that it conducted live crash testing with Calspan, an engineering firm that tests and certifies products for the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, along with major auto manufacturers.
“TrueMotion has set a new standard for thoroughness and volume when it comes to testing a smartphone-based crash detection application,” Greg Campbell, senior director of test services at Calspan, said in a statement. “Through our testing, they were able to measure the effects of accidents on the phone factoring on various locations and positions within the car, such as in a dashboard mount, in the driver’s pocket, lying loose on passenger seat and in the driver’s hand near the ear, producing an incredibly rich set of information about what a crash looks like through the bits and bytes of a mobile device.”