Illume Software Adds to Series A to Stop Driving While Texting and Talking on Mobile Phones
Many of us have seen cars swerving on the road ahead and later pull up to catch the driver gabbing on his or her mobile phone. Perhaps a few of us are guilty of the practice, too. Well, Illume Software, based in Concord, MA, said this morning that it has raised an additional $1 million for its Series A round of financing to pump funds into an application, dubbed iZup, that is designed to prevent driving under the influence of text messaging and needless chatting on mobile phones.
Illume reports today that it previously raised $2.4 million for the first-round financing back in February. The company’s investors aren’t identified on its website or in the announcement this morning, beyond a note saying that they are industry experts and private investors. A company spokeswoman was unable to immediately answer my questions about who is backing the firm. But they are certainly on to a big market; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that an estimated 800,000 drivers per day used their mobile devices in 2008 while behind the wheel.
IZup uses GPS and other technologies to tell when a mobile phone is in a moving vehicle. The software then sends the driver’s incoming calls directly to voice mail and prevents the driver from making calls or sending text messages while his car is in motion. Yet the technology is designed to allow emergency calls to 911, as well as preauthorized communications between parents and children, for example. An initial preview version of the software is due out later this fall, and in December the company plans to make its product available on BlackBerry smartphones and mobile phones that operate on Google Android and Windows Mobile software.
“We are seeing a tremendous increase in awareness around the dangers of cell phone usage while driving,” said Illume CEO Matthew Growney, in a statement. “As communities across America look to change this widespread behavior and improve the safety of our nation’s roadways, technology will be integral to success.”
The questions I have, especially in the absence of legislation specifically prohibiting the practice in many parts of the country, is will people want to police themselves and limit the use of their mobile phones in the name of safety?