Illume’s iZUP Mobile App Padlocks Cell Phones to Eliminate the Temptation to Talk or Text While Driving

5/17/10Follow @xconomy

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get through even while the phone is moving. Parents typically set up their teens’ systems so that they’re one of these numbers, and employers do the same for their fleet drivers, Ross says. This makes iZUP a better solution than just turning your phone off, for parents or managers who still want the feeling of connectedness with the drivers they’re in charge of, he says. IZUP also enables drivers to call 911 at any point while driving.

What if you’re a passenger in a car, or on a train, say—or maybe you’re booking on a run or riding your bike on a country road? Technically, since iZUP activates when you’re going faster than 5 mph, you might find calls and texts blocks in all these activities. Ross points out that it’s probably dangerous to be talking or texting while running or biking, anyway. But for those who are in a moving vehicle as a passenger, the app’s plan administrator can set a password that allows them to unlock the phone, he says.

Illume has garnered the support of cell phone carriers, who are starting to sell the app directly through their own websites. Illume’s application doesn’t interfere with mobile plan activity, as texts and voicemails are delivered to the user as soon as they come to a stop, Ross says. (Well, in an attempt to prevent those who try to cheat by talking and texting at stoplights, you actually have to be stopped for about two minutes for your phone to kick in again.)

The iZUP application allows users to run one other app on their phone while driving, which most people use for purposes such as GPS-based driving directions. “We complement, we do not compete with their apps,” Ross says.

In October, Ryan wrote that the company had added another $1 million to its $2.4 million Series A round. Ross didn’t give an exact funding total, but told me that Illume has raised less than $10 million and has no institutional investors, just backing from a group of angels.

Consumers have become so glued to their cell phones that reaching for them has become second nature, even while driving. IZUP will essentially help drivers retrain themselves on this level, as over time they get used to their phones not ringing, Ross projects.

“Behaviorally, your brain knows that you’re not going to reach for your phone, because it’s not available,” he says.

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