Though not old enough to drive herself, 11-year-old Victoria Walker is still aware of the dangers posed by texting while behind the wheel. Take a journey on any busy road and you see plenty of drivers checking for new messages on their mobile device while occasionally glancing out of the windshield to see where they’re going. The consequences for some unsuspecting pedestrian, or driver of another vehicle, can be disastrous.
Attending AT&T’s ‘It Can Wait’ hackathon in Los Angeles recently, Walker decided to enter a competition to design an app that would make people think twice about texting while driving. Judges were so impressed with her creation that they awarded her the top prize of $20,000, some of which will go towards bringing the app to market in the coming months.
According to the LA TImes, Walker developed the app, called Rode Dog, with help from David Grau, creative director of an interactive agency called WLDG.
The idea is that smartphone owners with the app link up to form a ‘pack’ – getting friends or family to sign up would be the easiest way to get started. Members of the pack can then check on each other to see if they’re texting while driving. If they are, an audible “bark” can be sent to the texter, which won’t stop until they acknowledge it and turn it off.
Grau confirmed that the continuous barking noise can get “really annoying,” hopefully forcing the driver to discard their handset and get their eyes back on the road. Let’s just hope they don’t have an accident while they’re dealing with the barking noise.
Sixth-grader Walker told the LA Times she got the idea for the app after remembering the racket created by her three dogs when they all kick off together, thinking that the noise they make would probably be bothersome enough to get drivers to think about what they’re doing and stop texting.
Walker and Grau are currently looking at ways to further develop Rode Dog, with plans to create a virtual pet store allowing users to buy other animal noises – like a roaring elephant, perhaps. On second thoughts, a sudden noise like that might be enough to send a startled driver careering off the road. Best stick with the dogs.
If you’re interested in getting hold of the app, head over to its webpage where you can sign up for updates regarding availability.