More on Patents…

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10-14-2013

More on Patents…

Starting today this column will be split into two sections. One section is the traditional explanation of the 10 steps of a patent application process. The second section will be an actual patent application process using a recent invention of my own. By restructuring in this way, the reader will not only learn to process his/her invention optimally, but also benefit from actually observing the real progress of an actual patentable concept through from the inception to completion.

 

As we discussed last week, Step II is to describe your idea in a notebook. The patentable (wishful thinking?) concept to be written up is the author’s invention to disable TWD automatically.

 

The author came up with this concept, which is supposed to stop TWD by disabling the cell phone’s text communication when the car is running faster than 2 mph. This section of the column is a “real time” event, and the readers will be able to watch how the patent office, starting from a provisional patent application, responds to my main application, accepts or rejects claims and ultimately grants a patent. This real time reporting of a technical patent application to the US Patent Office, I believe, has never been done in any form in any publication in the United States. In that sense alone, this is a spectacle in the world of patents. Now let the show begin!

 

During September and October this column discussed the insidious danger of texting while driving (TWD), which is now considered a national addictive epidemic with some 5,000 people dying on the road in the accidents caused by TWD. TWD is just one example of taking your attention away from watching the road ahead of you. Adjusting the radio, adjusting the heater or AC controls, looking at the passenger’s face while you carry on a conversation, trying to dial your cell phone, etc etc, all these activities increase probability of causing an accident. However, TWD is the most dangerous because your eyes are focused intently on the cell phone screen, which is hardly 2” x 3”. Additionally typing a short text could take as long as 30 seconds, in which period your car travels one half mile at the speed of 60 mph.

 

The solution to prevent TWD should only be aimed at the driver. The front passenger and rear passengers should be free to send/receive texts at will. Based on that requirement, I deduced that the front driver’s seat or the space around the driver has to be filled with some directional radiation that causes the disabling TWD.  The Photo 1 shows the normal and dangerous activity of a driver doing TWD. Photo 2 shows the three-dimensional space showered with a radiation either infrared, electromagnetic or acoustic energy.  As an option, radiation will have to be modulatable to carry a digital message to the cell phone if that is necessary. The driver no longer can text.

 

The radiation will be emitted from sources distributed throughout the ceiling of the automobile and the upper edge of the front windshield. The driver will not be able to use radiation-opaque material such as black electrical tape to cover the sources.

 

Cell phones then need to be modified to receive the radiation.  When the cell phone receives the radiation, it disables the texting capability by use of a specially written app, which disables either keyboard or some other means.   The cell phone will be enabled the moment the radiation disappears when the car’s speed becomes less than 2 mph. This arrangement will not prevent the front passenger or rear seat passengers from texting any time regardless of the car’s speed because their seats are not showered by the text-inhibiting radiation.

 

The above description will be submitted as a provisional patent application on October 10, 2013.  Now you watch what happens.

More on Patents

Uncategorized

10-7-2013

More on Patents

Did you go out to a bookstore and buy even one book of the three I suggested last week? No? Well, time will soon tell if you are going to be a serious inventor or not. Meanwhile I will try to write this column as interestingly and entertainingly as possible without sacrificing substance.

 

Step II: On September 23rd, I drew a diagram of 10 steps in the patent application process. In the course of your life you’ll encounter many problems, real and imaginary. Some problems have no solutions. Some problems seem to have a solution. I have written here many times that you shouldn’t invent a solution first and then look for the problem. That is called “a solution looking for a problem”, and is funny to hear but sad to witness when that’s someone else’s hard work.

 

So let’s analyze what a problem is: That is the new scientific discipline called Inventics – a methodology for successful invention.

 

Back 3.4 million years ago, a man or a woman felt frustrated that his wooden cutting tool was ineffective. The inventor then developed a sharp wedge made out of stone, and this was a resounding success as an arrowhead or spear. Whether he was a single person or group makes no difference, this is probably the first significant invention in human history. Within a few hundred thousand years this technology spread, and we all benefitted from it. Too bad he or she didn’t acquire a patent then. The inventor would’ve become quite wealthy.

 

Before we go into Step II “Describe Your Idea in Your Notebook”, I would like to discuss whether that idea is truly valuable. In order to conclude that an idea has value as a solution to a problem, we need to establish a scale with which to measure the value. That’s where an amateur inventor often falters. I have encountered many amateur inventors whose “brilliant” idea turned into a money-guzzling venture with little or no demand. If the inventor had known this before he spent so much effort and money, he would have saved himself trouble big time.

 

Now, let’s start evaluating this idea. The number one question is to clearly define the problem you are trying to solve.

  • Who is suffering from this problem? Have you verified that the problem does exist? What is the source?
  • If the sufferer is human, it is easy to find the answer. You ask and you will probably get a straight answer. You should ask as many people as possible to take your idea from a hunch to a fact.
  • If the sufferers are inanimate objects or animals, this is much more difficult. A good example is the pet or farm animal. They cannot speak, so you often end up guessing, which can go terribly wrong.
  • If the existence of the potential market (people willing to pay) is more or less proven, try to determine the size of the potential market for this solution. This will be difficult if the target market is animals who do not speak up.
  • After checking the above list of questions, you may find that the market just doesn’t exist, or it is vague and unquantifiable.
  • Now you have to face a decision if it is worthwhile to go ahead and spend some money and effort, or stop right there.

 

When you have decided that your idea truly has value, you have to draw it up in the notebook accurately. Make sure there are as many drawings or diagrams as you can create to explain your idea and add your name and time/date.

Patent Made Easy

Uncategorized

9-30-2013

Patent Made Easy

Now, below is what I would recommend you do regarding your patent concept. I strongly recommend that you try to do it yourself and learn as much as possible regarding how to navigate through this murky water. Think that you are one of those salmon roe trying to eventually become an adult salmon. Yes, you can do it. Start now.

 

Step I:             Get one of those patent made easy type of books, and read it from cover to cover. Do not start doing anything actually unless you feel you have sufficient feel of the “lay of the land” – knowledge about the patent process. I also suggest you test yourself by asking some questions, and coming up with answers by yourself.

Step II:            Write down your invention concept neatly on paper with graphics as best you can do. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you describe the problem you are trying to solve. (or solved)

Step III:           Patent Search. There are many patent search firms on the Internet. You may wish to contact them and try to feel out their attitude. If they are terse or pushy, do not have them do the work. The cost of a search usually starts from $300 and ends about $1,000.

Step IV:           If the patent search brings a straight-on conflict (someone had invented the same idea), that virtually ends your first attempt to acquire a patent. You consider yourself lucky in that you didn’t get involved in an endless and expensive patent conflict.

Step V:            If the search result shows the existence of no prior art (meaning someone had been granted patents on the subject), or similar but not identical prior arts, you can decide to proceed to apply for a provisional patent at the US Patent Office. The provisional patent affords you one year of protection after filing. That doesn’t mean you will have a patent granted eventually, but also this one year would provide you with time to make prototypes, make people connections, and also learn some more about the lay of the land.

Step VI:           If the Step V gets a green signal, it is time to apply for a patent. You have a choice of either engaging an established intellectual property attorney (expensive) or do it yourself. My recommendation is for you to do it yourself. It is a rather tedious and time consuming project, however, you would learn a great deal in doing it, the experience of which you are likely to remember for a long time, and enrich your inventor’s life.

Step VII:         If patent application is denied on all fronts, this ends your first attempt to receive a US Patent. Believe me sometimes this happens, and is really disheartening. But, if you want to survive and prosper as an inventor, you shouldn’t get discouraged. Slog on.

Step VIII:        If the patent is granted without too much compromise with the examiner in charge, you have won a victory for now. You will have a patent. A patent is issued with the number on the parchment with a nice looking ribbon attached. You will be elated. And now,…what?

Step IX:          As they say “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping” Yes, now the real battle starts. You have a patent, now you have to recover all the past expenses, and make a profit stream for the life of your patent. You have to either sell the patent or license it to someone who needs it. Who might be interested in working with you? This depends on the type of your patent. If it is a consumer type, then you have to contact consumer store chains, consumer product manufacturers and/or even consumer product sales representatives. If it is an industrial product, you have to do the same with manufacturers, dealers, distributors, and sales representatives.

 

Doing all these steps requires your patience and diligence. Set up a home office, and make yourself comfortable. Use a high fidelity headphone set, and make sure your phone line is clear without breaking up. Work only 2 hours a day for this, but always 2 hours consistently. The day will come to you in the end, and the first royalty payment will bring you tears of joy.

Patents

Uncategorized

6 9-23-2013B

Patents

Now, below is what I would recommend you do regarding your patent concept. I strongly recommend that you try to do it yourself and learn as much as possible regarding how to navigate through this murky water. Think that you are one of those salmon roe trying to eventually become an adult salmon. Yes, you can do it. Start now.

 

Step I:             Get one of those patent made easy type of books, and read it from cover to cover. Do not start doing anything actually unless you feel you have sufficient feel of the “lay of the land” – knowledge about the patent process. I also suggest you test yourself by asking some questions, and coming up with answers by yourself.

Step II:            Write down your invention concept neatly on paper with graphics as best you can do. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you describe the problem you are trying to solve. (or solved)

Step III:           Patent Search. There are many patent search firms on the Internet. You may wish to contact them and try to feel out their attitude. If they are terse or pushy, do not have them do the work. The cost of a search usually starts from $300 and ends about $1,000.

Step IV:           If the patent search brings a straight-on conflict (someone had invented the same idea), that virtually ends your first attempt to acquire a patent. You consider yourself lucky in that you didn’t get involved in an endless and expensive patent conflict.

Step V:            If the search result shows the existence of no prior art (meaning someone had been granted patents on the subject), or similar but not identical prior arts, you can decide to proceed to apply for a provisional patent at the US Patent Office. The provisional patent affords you one year of protection after filing. That doesn’t mean you will have a patent granted eventually, but also this one year would provide you with time to make prototypes, make people connections, and also learn some more about the lay of the land.

Step VI:           If the Step V gets a green signal, it is time to apply for a patent. You have a choice of either engaging an established intellectual property attorney (expensive) or do it yourself. My recommendation is for you to do it yourself. It is a rather tedious and time consuming project, however, you would learn a great deal in doing it, the experience of which you are likely to remember for a long time, and enrich your inventor’s life.

Step VII:         If patent application is denied on all fronts, this ends your first attempt to receive a US Patent. Believe me sometimes this happens, and is really disheartening. But, if you want to survive and prosper as an inventor, you shouldn’t get discouraged. Slog on.

Step VIII:        If the patent is granted without too much compromise with the examiner in charge, you have won a victory for now. You will have a patent. A patent is issued with the number on the parchment with a nice looking ribbon attached. You will be elated. And now,…what?

Step IX:          As they say “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping” Yes, now the real battle starts. You have a patent, now you have to recover all the past expenses, and make a profit stream for the life of your patent. You have to either sell the patent or license it to someone who needs it. Who might be interested in working with you? This depends on the type of your patent. If it is a consumer type, then you have to contact consumer store chains, consumer product manufacturers and/or even consumer product sales representatives. If it is an industrial product, you have to do the same with manufacturers, dealers, distributors, and sales representatives.

 

Doing all these steps requires your patience and diligence. Set up a home office, and make yourself comfortable. Use a high fidelity headphone set, and make sure your phone line is clear without breaking up. Work only 2 hours a day for this, but always 2 hours consistently. The day will come to you in the end, and the first royalty payment will bring you tears of joy.

Patents + Prototypes

Uncategorized

9-23-2013

Patents + Prototypes

In the world of capitalism the monetary value of an item fluctuates according to the present value of the item. What this means is the simple question: “Just how much does the item bring in profit (or loss) through its product life?”

 

Large number of 99% inventors suffer from an ailment called “Paragrela” – Paranoia, Greed and Laziness. I wrote about this back in May 13th this year. A 99% inventor gets this disease once in his/her career of invention. Once recovered, the inventor either stays wise and maintains Paragrela-free career or quits inventing all together.

 

In short explanation an average inventor thinks what he/she had come up is so precious that the outside world mustn’t find it out. He is deeply mired in the greedy illusion that money will soon start rolling in. But, he does absolutely nothing to make that happen. Soon the concept is forgotten.

 

FIG 1 demonstrates the rise (and fall) of the present value of an invention, which has just popped up in your head. The first period is conceptual. It is senseless to place any value on the concept. One hears in various media that someone sold a concept for a lot of money or venture capitalists have invested large sum of money on a mere idea. Whether this is true or not, rumor like that is an ideal breeding ground for Paragrela. Why not my idea, you say?

 

Next step is a period of patent search and/or building a prototype. Any patent search would cost you between $400 to $2,000. Some lucky inventors get immediately shut down by discovery of exactly identical concept through the search. I say lucky because by the discovery he was saved from additional expense of proceeding further.

 

Prototype building takes time and money. If the inventor can do it himself, he will save money and probably learn a lot more about the concept, bet it an electrical/electronics project, mechanical and or combination of both. Another way is to hire a company or group of engineers who are in business to develop prototypes for customers. They are not cheap. Their charge rate is anywhere between $40/hour to $100/hour costing you a serious sum. A prototype that takes 100 hours to complete would be anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000. The inventor has to pay. If that is the last chunk of your life savings, don’t do it.

 

Upon completing several prototypes the inventor has arrived at a point to decide if he/she applies for a provisional patent and see what happens. A provisional patent is an application for a patent at US Patent Office, and has an effective date of the application that has some effect of protection till it is proven wrong. If you wish to proceed to apply for a patent, this step is recommended. This part would cost you somewhere between $500 and $2,000.

 

If and when a provisional patent is granted, you have somewhat stronger position to start marketing the concept with working prototype. However, a provisional patent by no means is a US Patent. Provisional means you have filed your concept on a certain date at the Patent Office. It can be overturned or invalidated by an existing prior art or two.

Case 1309: This is the second installment of “How to make Profit from Your Patent”.

Uncategorized

9-16-2013

Case 1309: This is the second installment of “How to make Profit from Your Patent”.

On Monday September 9th I described the on-going frustration of 99% inventors who successfully obtained patent or two, and cannot make any profit by selling or licensing. It costs some money to get your idea “patent searched”, and obtain a representation with an intellectual property attorney and proceed to apply for a patent. If all goes well, you will have a patent in a few years. And now what? That was the crux of September 9th column.

 

A biologist specializing in the wild salmon population in the American Northeast once told me that a female salmon would produce and lay some 250,000 eggs. If about 40 out of 250,000 would become adult, the species are considered healthy and successful. My memory is somewhat faded, so please don’t quote me for accuracy. But, the ratio, 1.6 out of 10,000, isn’t all that different from the number of successful and profitable patent out of all that inventions.

 

Do I sound very pessimistic? Do I sound very discouraging? Yes to the two questions. The reason why there are so many disappointing patents and intellectual property owners is quite analogous to what happens to the 250,000 salmon’s roe. The environment the roe would face the moment they are discharged from the mother is extremely hostile. It is teeming with natural enemies. Roe is a highly nutritious food, and fish clamor to eat them. When they hatch and become infantile fish, they are chased and devoured by larger fish. Only lucky ones would survive by chance. However obviously that is the strategy of the salmon species to start with a huge number of roe to end up at the proper number for the survival of the species. They have been doing this for millions of years with no problems.

 

Well, the ecology of intellectual property is very similar in terms of its environment being very hostile. In this case inventors are definitely on the short end of stick. Let me go through the process of an amateur inventor having a concept of an invention. Let’s also assume that he/she has an idea of solution to a problem that plagues many people, or so he/she thinks.  The amateur inventor even has properly written up the concept in the notebook.

 

At this juncture the inventor has a choice of :

 

  • Go to a reputable intellectual property attorney and request “search for the prior arts – meaning “has somebody gotten there first?”
  • Get to one of those on-line “invention assistance” outfits and pay a fixed fee so that they would attempt to sell your invention or license it.
  • Do everything yourself. First build a prototype, and try to show it to potential buyers or licensers.
  • Do nothing.

 

If you choose 1), then the search would bring an accurate result. If someone had beaten you to it, then you can drop the idea and lick your wound. Advantage of this choice is that there wouldn’t be more expense.

 

If you choose 2), the process of “selling” your invention to potential buyers or licensees is a murky and invisible one. You have no idea just what happens in that process. These outfits charge you upward of $4,000.00 with no guaranty of success. When the outfit tells you that they found no buyers or licensees, you just have to accept the result. On the other hand, it might be just possible that the outfit succeeds in selling your invention to marketers like Wal-Mart. At least that is implied in their websites.

 

If you choose 3) this will be a time consuming process.   You have to build a prototype, and show it to various marketers by yourself. Take pictures and send them around. In the process you’d learn a lot, but the doubt remains it is worth the effort for your time, travel cost and other expenses.

 

Case 1309 “ Profit from Patent” continues to next Monday.

Patents

Uncategorized

9-9-2013

Patents

Case 1308 Texting While Driving ended 3 week run with no decisive conclusion even though public response was immediate and furious. Simply put, there is no technology, both in cars or cell phones, that cannot be disabled by drivers. Since TWD is a form of addiction, that makes it almost impossible to eliminate TWD other than self-discipline coupled with thorough law enforcement. I feel great sympathy to many parents who emailed me expressing their serious concern for the safety of their children. Sorry, but we just have to wait technology to advance or people voluntarily stop TWD. And that includes your teenage and college kids.

 

Case 1309 Monetizing One’s Patents:

 

About once a week I receive an inquiry or two from those 99% inventors about their one big problem. That is “how to monetize their patent, once he/she gets one?” Applying for a patent is a rather expensive process, and if you are not employee of a large corporation, you have to pay the expense all by yourself. Let’s say that comes to an average of $15,000.00 till a patent finally gets granted. Now what? Is the question the inventor instantly ends up asking, and he/she needs the answer very soon afterward.

 

A patent is perishable goods with a finite shelf life of say 17 years. You might say that’s a long time compared with apples and bananas in the produce section of a supermarket. Fruits and vegetables have a much shorter shelf life, but they are produced continuously through a year. A patent is a unique license granted by the government exclusively to its holder. However, patents age fast through its 17-year journey. First of all, technology changes very quickly. A new concept having some positive monetary value today quickly fades to an average uninteresting concept with disappearing monetary value.

 

The biggest problem inventors face is the marketing of his/her own inventions. In fact many small time inventors get discouraged after receiving a US patent, and couldn’t do a thing with it. Let’s just assume that the patent is the result of the inventor identifying a problem, and developing an appropriate solution for it. And that means the problem isn’t unique to his perception, but common to many other people and/or situation specific to the industry or consumer market. So, why aren’t there any parties coming forward out of woodwork to want to buy, license or doing both?

 

This question, a very good and natural one, puzzles almost all 99% inventors after plunking his hard earned money to patent processes. Elation of receiving a patent with that impressive parchment certificate with red ribbon soon dies out and a long silence starts. The world doesn’t come banging your door down. Nobody seems to care that you got a patent, and the long silent period of 17 years starts.

 

If you have a retail store, you know you have to let people know that you exist. You’d run advertisements in various media, run sale events with deep discount, and in general greet in-coming customer with pleasant smile and greeting.   In general you have to exude success.

 

If you have a patent, you have to do the same. Instantly you’d ask “HOW?” I don’t have a patent store, do I? In fact there are no stores that sell patents even if I’d want to display my patent.

 

Now you see the problem that blocks you from making any profit from your own invention. A woman approached me on the downtown street the other day and told me that her husband, a bright engineer, holds three patents. But, those patents have yielded so far no income whatsoever, and he is working on another one. She sees nothing but a substantial expense and no return on his/her investment. She says “My kitchen needs an upgrade.”

 

Next week on this Case 1309 I suggest a solution for this large and serious problem.

Case 1308: Texting While Driving (TWD) issue

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9-2-2013

Case 1308: Texting While Driving (TWD) issue

On Monday August 19th, this column featured “Texting While Driving” (TWD) craze now sweeping America. Readers’ response was swift and furious. Immediately we received many emails condemning the activity, and wanting law enforcement organizations to impose stiffest penalty to the drivers. Some emails stated that DWI is on the decline due to stiff penalty including loss of driver’s license. Why couldn’t we do the same to TWD? Some argued TWD is more dangerous as the driver is NOT looking ahead, and an accident could happen at a high speed.

 

Regarding possible solutions, two people independently contacted me stating that they have been working on the technological solutions, and they would demonstrate their prototypes to me when they can be shown. I am looking forward to their proposed solutions. I will report on this column when that happens.

 

There are several apps for smartphones available in the market place. FleetSafer Mobile® app for truckers blocks calls, texts and emails while the driver is at the wheel. But all these apps can be turned off, and that is a problem for undisciplined drivers who are addicted to texting/calling.

 

This week, as the conclusion of the Texting While Driving Series, we will show you two simple tables of “Time to Impact” v.s. speed of your car.

 

EXPERIMENT: I have asked two people to text the following line: “Do U wanna go to movie tonite?” The experiment was conducted in a parked auto with the driver’s left hand on the steering wheel, and the right hand holding a smart phone and typing. Two people took roughly 30 seconds to complete the text and push “SEND” button.

 

Chart I: How far does the car travel in that 30 seconds at various speed?

This is a very easy question, and any grammar school kids can produce correct answers. However, I wonder when these kids become teenagers and get driver’s license, suddenly they seem to forget what they did learn in their arithmetic class and love speed without fully knowing the extent of danger involved. The graphic shows the distance traveled in a mere 30 second, 20 and 10 at various speeds. A simple thing to remember is that your car travels half mile in 30 seconds at 60 mph. It is a huge distance. This chart is accompanied with a graphic FIG 1: Distance Traveled Given Speed.

 

 

 

 

Table II: How long does it take for the car to drift into the opposite traffic lane on a secondary Two-Lane road?

 

All lanes of secondary roads are usually 11~12ft wide. Assuming you travel on the middle of the lane, your car’s center is 6ft away from the road’s centerline. So, this calculation is to find “how long does it take for your car to drift into the opposing traffic lane given various speed?” The results startle you. If your steering wheel is cocked by 1 degree (a slight angle) the car would take only 3.9 seconds to drift over the divider yellow lines at 60 mph. But, if there is an on-coming car on the opposite traffic lane at the same speed, the combined collision speed is 120 mph, at which the accident would be very severe with possible fatalities. That’s why TWD accidents are much worse than DWI caused accidents. This chart is accompanied with FIG 2: Time To Drift To Opposing Lane.

 

The case 1308 TWD comes to an end for now, however, I strongly urge readers to communicate with this column to send your comments, potential solutions or method of educating the public. I believe TWD is a form of addiction, and it will be very hard to eradicate just like DWI used to be till law had been applied seriously. If you have a technical solution, we would like to hear from you especially.

Texting + Driving

Uncategorized

August 28, 2013

Texting + Driving

I don’t know when newspapers get delivered at home in the morning. But it’s always there by the time I go out to pick it up. On Monday morning August 19th, right around 6AM, my computer rang several chimes to indicate arriving emails. By 6:15, I had five emails from readers on the subject being discussed on that day – Texting While Driving and the havoc it causes on safety on the roads. These readers must have read the paper around 5AM, and got on the computer to send me their opinions.

 

Suddenly the airwave and print media is dotted with articles and shows about the problem of Texting While Driving (TWD). You would benefit greatly by viewing the Werner Herzog’s documentary. The link is: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/08/09/werner_herzog_texting_while_driving_documentary_from_one_second_to_the_next.html?wpisrc=newsletter_jcr:content

 

Also Diane Rehm Show broadcast an hour long discussion on TWD on Tuesday August 20th through NHPR, and the program had several prominent panelists on the subject.

 

It seems, however, none of these public discussion programs offer a decisive solution to the very serious problem. It seems there is no silver bullet, so the problem will go on killing people as business as usual? The severity of the problem affecting public safety is very high. On country roads where two opposing lanes are separated by just two fading yellow lines, you risk your life at all times.

 

The issue definitely ignited the concern of the readers as you read from some of their comments.

 

John Smith (Hampton, NH) I was recently forced over the right as far as far as I could go, almost up against  a tree by a younger driver looking down and not looking up until he almost hit me, actually clipped mirrors. I think that any accident caused by texting while driving should result in loss of driving privileges; 1st – 30 days , 2nd – 60 days , then habitual offender status. We can’t take away phones, parents are giving them to children at a young age but the only way to fight the ‘ personal fable’ is to enact and enforce much tougher laws than a possible $25 dollar fine. I can’t think of any message that is important enough to put someone else’s property and more importantly their health at risk because you just had to answer back to ” What’s up?”.

 

 

Mike Peraresi (Stratham, NH) I love this topic.  While I think preventing texting while driving is absolutely necessary, I find it a most difficult challenge to come up with a technology that will become mainstream. I like the text to voice solution since most texts are short quick little snippets of information. The text question is a tougher one i.e. “When will you be arriving?” etc.  Seems like this technology is firmly

in the hands of the Bluetooth folks to provide a simple way to voice reply – something like “TEXT REPLY .  . .  5:30pm” or “I’m driving now ttyl”. I would buy that capability. 

 

Galemarie (Manchester, NH)

I just read your article about texting while driving and I could not agree

with you more.  It is absolutely infuriating that people are focusing on

texting and not paying attention to their driving. 5,000 deaths annually due

to this negligent habit is unacceptable and laws must change immediately.  A

vehicle can easily become a weapon and people who cause accidents while

texting/talking on the cell phone should be held accountable with a large

fine and/loss of license and/or jail time. The state of Maine prohibits any

communication via cell phone while driving unless a blue tooth is utilized.

 

A middle-aged woman was texting while driving on the wrong side of the lane

heading directly at me out of the Wal-Mart parking lot last week. I blew the

horn and yelled “hang up and drive” and she glared at me like I was the one

at fault.  Unbelievable.  Where have people’s minds gone?

 

I would like to start the ball rolling on this subject.  Whom should I write

to?  The Aldermen, the Mayor, Dept of Safety? Any feedback you can provide me with would be most appreciated Sam.

 

There are many more reader comments. They are all identical in the strong desire to stop this dangerous practice. Several apps are available to prevent keyboard operations at a certain speed, but this can also be disabled. I also have a strong suspicion that this TWD is a form of addiction, which like alcoholism presents great difficulty to control, let alone eliminate. It seems a stiff penalty is the most effective measure.

Driving & Texting

Uncategorized

8-19-2013

Terri Golter, an EMT from New Castle, NH Fire Department said to me “The Accidents caused by Driving & Texting far outnumber those caused by DWI these days.” This was her response to my telling her that a driver who was texting had hit my car.

 

The other day I joined a line of cars waiting for the green light. I looked up, and through my rearview mirror I saw a car approaching. Strangely the driver was not looking forward. She was looking down. I sensed a hopeless urge to honk. In a fraction of a second, her car hit mine, and the rest is history. Nobody was hurt. Her car was damaged badly, while my car just lost its rear bumper. All together the cost must have been in excess of $5,000.00.

 

Suddenly I became aware of this modern phenomenon called Driving & Texting (Texting while Driving – TWD or Dexting, etc). I have been aware of many people on the phone on the highways in the morning and evening commutes. I also notice that some drivers on the phone are not as agile as those not on the phone. However, the serious risk from Texting while Driving didn’t seem to me as worse than being on the phone.

 

So this week’s column will be dedicated to the potential solutions for the problem of Texting while Driving, a complex social, psychological and technological phenomenon sweeping the world.

 

First of all if you haven’t been aware of the serious tragedy brought about by an accident from TWD, please look for various videos available in the Internet. The one most harrowingly intense and effective is the one produced by Werner Herzog, a famed German film director. Here’s the link:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/08/09/werner_herzog_texting_while_driving_documentary_from_one_second_to_the_next.html?wpisrc=newsletter_jcr:content

 

Now let’s think why texting has become so popular among drivers especially teenagers.

  • Texting is much more reliable than cell phone conversation. It is short, crisp and has no failures despite varying service strength.
  • Texting is far more direct than phone conversations. No “Can you hear me?”
  • One can text things he or she normally hesitates to say over the phone.
  • It’s 24/7 and the user has option of responding or not responding immediately.
  • For professional people who rely on fast communication connection, texting is a perfect medium. The attraction and urgency it offers often can far outweigh the potential danger.
  • Additionally, texting has become in vogue with young people. It is a strong sub-culture all by itself.
  • Also small screen displays beside cellphones are on the rise again, and drivers would use to download music, video, games and other apps thus distracting them from driving safely.

 

Now let’s discuss the damage TWD causes to this country.

 

  • 5,000 deaths a year are directly attributable to TWD and this is rising, while the total death in traffic accidents in 2011 were 32,367. (AAA Foundation)
  • Of the 5.3 million crashes in 2011 1.3 million crashes involved distraction caused by a cell phone.

 

Now let’s discuss potential remedies:

 

  1. Legal: Enact strict laws to ban texting. This is easy to say and hard to implement. Some sort of monitoring system has to be developed in cooperation with service providers. They know who is texting, and GPS data locate texters.
  2. Motion Detection: Using the built-in GPS in the cell phone, it will disable the texting feature when the car is in motion. (Available already) But, the app can be disabled easily. Also people who use public transportation would be inconvenienced.
  3. Self Discipline: Put the cell phone out of your reach in the car when you are driving. Again it’s easy to say but very hard to enforce even by yourself.
  4. Develop an audio interface so that both the call out and call in will be in the form of speech. Text would be read by the computer-voice (not via audio channel) – thus retaining the text’s reliability. Thus texting becomes no more distracting than the voice call.
  5. Develop a Head-Up Display so that text will appear on the windshield. This would reduce the degree of distraction.

 

I am awaiting all readers’ suggestion. NO TEXTING while DRIVING!