The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

Summary: Bump.com is a new service that allows users to communicate with each other on the road by sending messages to each other, via license plates.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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A company named Bump took to the stage at the DEMO conference in Silicon Valley this week, offering a peek at technology that ties you to your license plate number and gives "mobile" communication a whole new meaning.

Credit: PR Newswire

At first glance, the concept is scary, creepy and slightly disturbing - the ability for drivers to communicate with each other by text or email simply by sending a message to a license plate number. Sure, Bump.com has included some safety features, such as allowing users to reject or block certain messages and keeping names anonymous. And, of course, the service is opt-in only. The user has to enter - and verify - the plate number.

There's a good profile of the company and its background by Dean Takahashi over at Venture Beat, who also explores some of the marketing usages - such as fast-food restaurants capturing information about favorite menu items as you roll through the drive-thru.

As a native Californian who learned how to drive on the Bay Area freeways, I immediately imagined new scenarios where road ragers send each other nasty messages. But then, as I started to hear more about it, I envisioned a number of other legitimate uses for the technology. So, I put together a short list of good things and bad things about this sort of technology - and I'll let you decide which is which.

If you have more for the list, please add them in the talkbacks

  • You could let a driver know that he left his cup of coffee on the roof of the car. Or that his turn signal on. Or that he has a low tire.
  • You could send a note to the cute girl in the next lane to see if she's single and free for dinner.
  • You could tell that idiot who's zig-zagging in and out of traffic to cool his heels already - or something to that effect.
  • Rental car companies could register their cars to monitor the driving habits of their customers, assuming others rat them out for bad driving.
  • Government agencies, utility companies and commercial businesses, such as electricians or repair services, can monitor complaints about poor drivers (an online version of those "How's My Driving?" bumper stickers).
  • Fast food companies could track customers menu favorites and target them with marketing messages.
  • A good samaritan might warn you that the time on your meter has expired and that a parking enforcement officer is in the area - or a tow truck.
  • Someone could tell you if they witnessed another person hit your car in a parking lot - and then flee the scene. Or, maybe the honest person who hit your car could send you a note, instead of leaving one on your windshield.
  • Parents could gain some insight on how a teen driver is behaving on the road - again, assuming others rat him out.

Topic: Hardware

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Talkback

38 comments
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  • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

    Texing while driving morons..
    So if some idiot crashes into me while using that service will the service be liable?
    MoeFugger
    • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

      @MoeFugger yup. game, set, match. and that about wraps it up. nicely played sir.
      aikodude@...
    • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

      @MoeFugger
      That was exactly my first thought.
      In addition, you should be paying attention to the road!!! A company that is banking on people using their service while driving is very irresponsible.
      With states implementing texting while driving bans, I see this going nowhere fast.
      This is probably the stupidest thing I've heard all week....(though the week is not over yet)
      Salonikios
      • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

        @Salonikios You're not going to stop people from texting while driving... any more than you can stop them from playing with the radio, talking on the phone, eating a taco, or reading a book. Just like speeding, people will simply become more careful about when and how they do it.

        I think that it's a very interesting idea... as long as privacy concerns are addressed. I don't want spam, and I don't want anyone to be able to connect my license plate with my personal identity, my phone number, my e-mail address, or my home address. I don't want someone to see that I'm not at home... then rob it while I'm not there.
        tony@...
      • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

        @tony
        "You're not going to stop people from texting while driving... any more than you can stop them from playing with the radio, talking on the phone, eating a taco, or reading a book. Just like speeding, people will simply become more careful about when and how they do it."

        The point isn't about completely stopping people from texting. The point is that it is illegal (in some states...soon to be most states) and dangerous. The usage of this "app" would be illegal. While the other behaviors you mentioned may not be safe, they aren't illegal. Also those other activities "eating a taco, reading a book, talking on the phone" are not activities that are meant to be performed while driving....using this app is.
        Salonikios
      • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

        @Salonikios
        very interesting. a bit scary, but I kind of like it. i don't think we can really hold facebook liable if someone is facebooking and driving even if they are facebooking a local honda dealer, or Gmail liable because someone is Gmailing when they drive or hold verizon liable if I pay my bill when I drive because they said it is due in 10 min and let's face it, it's not primarily texting and driving that's going to cause accidents as much as surfing the web when you drive, or other deep info-additction to twitter feeds, my girlfriends are on the phone all the time and they are not texting or emailing, they are looking at pictures and videos and twitter. i've seen so many things I wanted to tell someone when I pass their car, this could actually be really cool and I'll use it as a passenger for sure because I typically don't drive the car. so i guess i dont think it's stupid, i think it's amazing that this has not already happend, I can look out my window and see like 20 cars that all need to get moved before tomorrow mornings street cleaning! i just tried to register but it said it needed a code, if i could get in, I'd bump them because I forgot last week and got a ticket. : (
        -em
        ashleytager
    • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

      @MoeFugger
      You got that right.
      Loverock Davidson
    • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

      @MoeFugger

      First, it's "texting". Second, I don't see anywhere in this article where there's mention of texting while driving. I understand this company of being a way to SPEAK to other drivers, remember we have bluetooth devices, and to LISTEN to what other drivers are trying to tell us. Watch the DEMO presentation for BUMP.com: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid44978706001?bclid=609353045001&bctid=606353079001
      There are plenty of other reasons to use these services and it's ideal for people to remember that they should be practicing safe driving, this service is to make the roads safer. Text BUMP while you are a passenger or while you are a pedestrian.. voice dial if you are driving, plain and simple.
      LinaJohnson
      • Bump and Bumper

        @MoeFugger ( in LinaJohnson's defense )

        People who make tiepos are clerley moroons and shuld be disregarded.

        "[...] the ability for drivers to communicate with each other by text or email [...]"

        Clearly it would be unreasonable to assume the above statement means anything other than texting and/or emailing only _after_ parking your car and going into your local pub with your friends for non-alcoholic beer with your fish and chips.

        On the East Coast do when someone who happens to have a "how am I driving?" email address on their bumper sticker (it's so 90's, really) and a Starbucks mug on the roof-rack tailgates a local and then cuts them off trying to pass them, we locals customarily pull over, turn off the vehicle, wait to be sure we are calm, pull out our hot-spot enabled laptop, and type them an email warning them that they are spilling their valuable coffee.

        I'm sure we'll do the same if we can send a text or email to anyone with a license plate.

        Koodoze to Bump.com, I commend you from my laptop on my Wheelmate (http://www.amazon.com/AutoExec-WM-01-Wheelmate-Steering-Wheel/dp/B000IZGIA8 ) while in the HOV lave on i-95.
        GabeFree
      • Pardon me, but...

        @LinaJohnson I think you'd better clean your monitor.

        Strike One: texting IS mentioned; first sentence of the second paragraph.
        Strike Two: the article does NOT mention actual verbal communication as an option (so much for your bluetooth theory).
        Strike Three: a service that promotes using one's phone in ANY manner while driving is NOT going to "make the roads safer".

        You got just about everything in the article backwards, your link is dead, and you're a grammar nazi... thanks for playing, but You're Out!!
        ddferrari
    • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

      @dfjh If I give you my license plate number, will you spam me there, too?
      ejhonda
    • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

      @dfjh <-- he'll spam you in your car, too.
      ejhonda
      • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

        rainy day women drivers 12 & 35:
        They'll spam you when you're driving in your car...
        jankeesdudel@...
  • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

    Yeah as most have mentioned already, Texting and driving is illegal in most states now and will most likely be soon in the ones that aren't. This company is a joke and needs to be stopped before it is even started.
    justinkearney
    • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

      @justinkearney I love how so many people spout off without even knowing how something works.
      blueskip
      • Still waiting

        @blueskip Were you planning to finish your comments? See, if you're going to be a smart-a$$ and tell everyone they don't know what they're talking about, then you just obligated yourself to explain why we're all wrong and you're right. So go ahead- enlighten us.
        ddferrari
    • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

      @justinkearney if the service is voice activated, i will totally use this. are you kidding me, sounds way safer to stay locked in my car and tell someone something important or hazardous, than to get out-- if i can send a text or email with my voice, sign me up!
      blairbretz
  • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

    While it has some legitimate uses I see more riots starting because of it. Not just because someone in the lane is too busy texting and holding up traffic but also the person behind him calling him names, he gets ticked off and out of the car they go for a good old brawl. Especially in areas like L.A. This is a service they should keep only to businesses, not everyone who has a vehicle.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

      @Loverock Davidson Brawl? Really? How quaint. The term 'firefight' would be much more appropriate.
      ejhonda
  • RE: The goods and bads of Bump, which links you to your license plate

    As the video from Demo.com extolls, it's great for telling someone their car alarm is on or lights are on, without making a loudspeaker announcement (almost as annoying as the alarm!).
    I also like that we could snoop on our kids who are using our cars! :)
    WardChristman