Watch these amazing videos published by Mashable today in an article entitled: Your Kids Will Never Text and Drive Again After Watching These 10 Videos! The first one is called "The Impossible Texting and Driving Test." It is a more lighthearted PSA from the Belgian organization Responsible Young Drivers and documents new motorists who are are forced to text during a driving test. "Plenty of people will crash, I'm telling you," says one bemused student as he buckles his seatbelt.
Be sure and visit Mashable! for the rest of these videos, and let us know in the comments what you think of them.
This just published on Mashable!:
A married couple who were severely injured when their motorcycle was hit by a teen who was texting while driving has settled for $500,000.
The couple’s attorney says that amount is the maximum the young man’s insurance company will pay. However, they’re currently still seeking further legal action.
David and Linda Kubert, the couple involved in the accident, were riding on a New Jersey road in fall 2009 when then 18-year-old Kyle Best, who was driving a truck — allegedly with his elbows — slammed into them.
Seconds before the crash, Best sent a text to his girlfriend Shannon Colonna. The Kuberts’ lawyer argued that she was “electronically present” for the accident and persued legal action against her, too. The judge dismissed the claim against Colonna saying the someone who sends a text is no more responsible for an accident than a billboard.
The campaign against texting-while-driving has been pushed into the spotlight recently by incidences of roadway deaths due to texting while behind the wheel.
AT&T, for example, is doing a pledge drive asking teens to promise to avoid texting while driving.
SEE ALSO: Texting and Driving: A Crash Course [INFOGRAPHIC]
AT&T launched a tear-jerking video series with real stories of family members who lost loved ones due to texting and driving. The videos not only show the sadness the loss of life has caused for family and friends, but also highlights how trivial many text messages are by showing the deceases’ last words — lasts texts are often as banal as simply, “Yeah.”
Despite the video campaign, teens admitted that they continue to text while driving in a survey recently released by AT&T. 97% of teens said they know that texting while driving is dangerous, but 75% say that the practice is still common among their friends. 89% answered that they reply to a text message or email within five minutes, whether they’re driving or not.
The bottom line here? Isn't it better, and far less expensive, to pay a few bucks for one or more of VoiZapp's reading aloud apps than to text and drive and seriously injure or kill someone?
Sigh. This is one of the reasons we created all of the "Aloud" series of apps. Enough said...
News flash from Australia: bus driver video'ed fiddling with his mobile phone while driving at high speed down the highway. This sort of thing happens all the time all over the world, of course, but rarely is it so blatantly caught on video.
I found this video especially compelling, because the idea of VoiZapp came to me after being pulled over by the police in Melbourne Australia while doing exactly this. I was using my iPhone's mapping function while driving on a surface street near St. Kilda, not being aware that it is against the law there for a driver to even hold a mobile phone. Ruminations after this episode led to the idea of Friends Aloud, which led to the entire line of VoiZapp products that you now see on this website and in the App Store.
When you walk and text, not only do you experience a massive drop in noticing your surroundings, but your speed of walking declines by 16 percent! That’s the finding of a study from Stony Brook University, reported in the online edition of Gait & Posture and conducted by Eric Lamberg and Lisa Muratoni, who studied 33 participants. In a news release, Lamberg noted:
"We were surprised to find that talking and texting on a cell phone were so disruptive to one’s gait and memory recall of the target location,” says Eric M. Lamberg. Although walking seems automatic, areas in the brain controlling executive function and attention are necessary for walking. Dr. Lamberg says that the significant reductions in velocity and difficulty maintaining course indicates cell phone use and texting impacts working memory of these tasks.
So basically, just as texting and driving is about as bad as drinking and driving, texting while walking has now been shown to degrade your performance as well. Curing these problems while still enabling you to check in and respond to your social media, web articles, and/or emails is what VoiZapp is all about. We appreciate scientists like Lamberg validating our corporate mission.
Things are happening really fast here at VoiZapp as we hit our stride at turning out requested updates to our existing apps and building new ones. Friends Aloud 3.0 was approved in record time by Apple, and has been for sale in the App Store for about a week. Even at the higher price of $2.99, sales have surpassed expectations, and reviews are great as usual.
We also completed giving Tweets Aloud 3.0 similar Siri-like tweet dictation capabilities, and have now submitted it to the App Store for approval. Hopefully, that will be forthcoming this week, so that you will be able to not only listen to but also dictate your tweets from now on, resulting in a totally hands-free Twitter experience.
Next up will be Read It Aloud, a completely new app that will let you read aloud your saved InstaPaper or Read It Later articles, as well as anything on your Google Reader RSS news feed. We are expecting Read It Aloud to make it out of our development lab before the end of November and into the App Store just in time for you to stay in touch with your personalized news sources during the crush of holiday shopping.
We have just submitted Friends Aloud 3.0, with Nuance-powered (Siri-like) speech recognition to the App Store. If they approve in the usual week or so, it should go live towards the end of next week. We are all excited to have this one almost in the hands of our loyal users.
Tweets Aloud 3.0, with similar new features, is in beta and following hot on the heels of Friends Aloud 3.0. It could make it to the App Store as early as next week, too.
We were delighted to read a Forbes article about how Apple stock could more than double on the sheer power of Siri. As a developer who is exending Siri's speech recognition to the several million existing iOS devices, not just the latest and greatest iPhone 4S, we are sympathetic about what that article's author had to say about the importance of speech recognition to the future of mobile devices:
Friends Aloud 3.0 with Siri-like speech recognition is now in beta-testing. We expect to submit it to the App Store in a week or two. As existing users who upgraded to iPhone 4S may have already discovered, Friends Aloud 2.0 and Tweets Aloud 2.0 now have keyboards with optional Siri-powered speech recognition available via a small microphone icon next to the spacebar. But the hundreds of millions of pre-iPhone 4S iOS users were left behind. VoiZapp will soon give all iOS users of its Aloud series of products the ability to use Siri-like speech recognition natively within its entire product line, starting with Friends Aloud 3.0. This is a monumental shift in user interfaces, aptly summed up in this article by Robert Hof:
“Siri is the culmination of the Jobs legacy,” contends Gary Morgenthaler, a partner at the venture capital firm Morgenthaler Ventures in Menlo Park, Calif. Morgenthaler was the first VC investor in Siri and was a board member until Apple acquired it, as well as an investor and board member of Nuance Communications, the voice recognition software company whose technology also is used by Siri. Both companies were spun out of the research institute SRI International.
In an exclusive interview, Morgenthaler provided a revealing look at how Siri developed and what it could potentially do–including how it could reshape the worlds of e-commerce and advertising. Morgenthaler makes a good case that Siri represents the third revolution in human-computer interfaces (emphasis ours) that Jobs perfected and popularized. The first was the graphical user interface, using a mouse as a pointing device, which Jobs adapted (some might say stole) from Xerox PARC and SRI to make the Macintosh. The second came in the iPod and the iPad, using a gestural interface–again, not a technology it invented, but anyone who uses Apple’s touch technology knows it performs better than anyone else’s. The third, Morgenthaler contends, is a conversational interface epitomized by Siri. “It could create a new paradigm for interacting with computers, a new man-machine interface,” he says. “We are at a turning point in history where people can talk to a computer and be understood. It’s a watershed moment where people won’t go back.”
We at VoiZapp believe that Morganthaler is exactly right about Jobs' legacy. Once you experience the power of being able to listen to your Facebook news feed and then reply naturally in your own voice with updates, comments, and likes, you'll never want to hunch over a keyboard again. Here's a short video demo of Friends Aloud 3.0. Look for it soon in the App Store. As always, you can purchase Friends Aloud 2.0 now and automatically update to 3.0 for free the instant that it becomes available.
Last month we released a new version of Friends Aloud 2.0, and follow up this week with a new version of Tweets Aloud 2.0. The main feature we have just added is the ability to compose new Status Updates, Comments, or Tweets using the built-in iOS keyboard. However, as VoiZapp is focused on speech, we are delighted to note that the just-released iPhone 4S now comes with a little microphone button next to the spacebar on the built-in keyboard, thereby enabling you to compose using Siri's automated speech recognition capability. Naturally, Siri misses what you said sometimes, in which case the full keyboard is still available for correcting what it heard.
This upgrade is, of course, free to existing users. If you just purchased an iPhone 4S and don't already own Friends Aloud or Tweets Aloud apps, you can purchase them from Apple's App Store for $1.99 apiece. Then you can stay in touch with your friends via Facebook and Twitter strictly via your voice, both coming and going!
August has been a very busy month here at VoiZapp. Two new "Aloud" products have been submitted to Apple's App Store for approval -- Tweets Aloud and Messages Aloud. Review cycles seem to be getting a bit longer than before, but we hope that they will be approved and available by the end of this month. Two more are almost complete and are in beta testing right now -- Read It Aloud and Emails Aloud. And we are working on porting Friends Aloud to the Android platform.
Along with our existing app Friends Aloud, all of our apps keep you totally connected by reading aloud various sources of your social media. And some of them -- notably Read It Aloud and Emails Aloud -- begin our foray into speech input with a hands-free mode that lets you speak to the apps to control their operation instead of having to tap the iPod-like controls or anywhere onscreen. For instance, Read It Aloud will announce the headlines of each article in your Google Reader feed and pause a couple of seconds after each, at which point you can say things like "Read that" or "Skip It." When you are using the app in speaker mode, it only listens during pauses in the reading aloud process, so that its voice does not inadvertently trigger its voice controls. But when you're using the app on a Bluetooth or wired headset, voice controls are continuously active and enable you to control the apps completely hands-free.
One of the disappointments we have discovered in building this line of apps stems from the absence of input modality from some of the APIs. For instance, we originally designed Messages Aloud to enable you to reply to incoming Facebook messages using only your voice. Unfortunately, Facebook's API does not enable message sending, only message receiving, so that app is less functional than we had intended. Happily, such is not the case with the (unofficial) Twitter API that we're using, nor with Facebook's API for wall postings, nor with the various APIs we are using for Emails Aloud. So those apps will evolve a complete voice input functionality, even if they don't have it right out of the chute.
As each app makes it way past Apple's reviewers, we will announce it here (and everywhere!) as it becomes available for sale. So please stay tuned. If you're a user of any sort of RSS feed reader such as Google Reader, you can of course follow this blog by simply adding it to your feed. Or subscribe to email updates by entering your email address on the box on the right beneath the Categories.