ORIGOSafe stops drivers from texting

The universal ignition interlock system requires the driver to insert his or her phone prior to starting the vehicle in order to start it, possibly a boon for parents.

A U.S. company has developed a universal ignition interlock system called ORIGOSafe that requires the driver to insert his or her phone prior to starting the vehicle. The device won't allow the vehicle to start unless the driver first docks the phone.

The hardware device is similar in design to a classic cassette tape or 8-track deck, and the phone is connected into the ORIGOSafe port. A green light then appears indicating that the vehicle is ready to be started.

In addition to charging the phone while it's plugged in, the system allows drivers to answer voice calls--hands-free--via a Bluetooth-enabled headset or earpiece. However, the ability to send text messages is no longer available since the touch screen and keyboard are completely covered when docked.

ORIGOSafe docked with an Apple iPhone 5.
ORIGOSafe docked with an Apple iPhone 5.

ORIGOSafe is great for parents as this device can make sure their teenagers are no longer sending text messages while driving. While the phone can be removed from ORIGOSafe at any time while driving, an alarm is activated once the phone is removed.

In addition, the driver will be completely locked out of the system the next time he attempts to start the vehicle, even if the phone is plugged into ORIGOSafe. In order to reset the device, the administrator has to log into the main account to authorize the errant driver once more. 

However, the first obvious question which comes to mind is what if the driver doesn't have the phone on him for any reason? Or worse, it has been damaged or stolen? In such cases, the driver is locked out from mobilizing the vehicle and will be stranded.

I also asked myself two questions: Why should the driver be able to remove the phone while driving and, if so, why is the driver locked out of the system?

If the driver already knows the vehicle has ORIGOSafe installed, it would only make logical sense to pull over, stop, and turn off the engine to safely remove the phone.

The lockout mechanism itself can once again lockout the driver from mobilizing the vehicle. Worst case scenario it is in the middle of the night, the weather is bad, and the system administrator is not available to unlock ORIGOSafe.

One feature that should be included with ORIGOSafe is an emergency activator or response system while the vehicle is mobilized. There should be an alert or panic feature available for the driver, providing a direct link to emergency responders.

On the plus side, ORIGOSafe does act as an anti-theft device, deterring thieves that don’t have the driver's phone from mobilizing the vehicle.

That being said, ORIGOSafe does allow the driver to utilize music applications while driving and the phone can be removed from the device when the parking brake is active, while the vehicle is still running.

ORIGOSafe has a limited range of compatible phones, as it currently only works with the Samsung Galaxy S3 . Kits for the Apple iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 will be released during April 2013.

The device is currently priced at INR 15,181 (US$279) and professional installation costs an additional INR 6,803 (US$125). However, there's no warranty included with ORIGOSafe unless the device is professionally installed. In India, it's available at the retail chain, Gizmo's.