Have a ‘Hart’: Troy businessman develops phone app to protect teens
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 8:56 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter
By CHRIS MENEES
Paul Hart is offering parents some peace of mind.
The local businessman and owner of Hart Technologies in Troy has created the SIPS — Safety Information and Protection System — Teen Driver Application for Android and iPhone smartphones.
The concept began with the development of a fleet tracking system device, which has a patent pending, for tracking and monitoring drivers in the U.S. and worldwide. Hart said the device should be on the market this summer, explaining it’s “on the edge of new technology.”
As work on the vehicle tracking device progressed, Hart decided it needed to be put into a smart phone application — and the SIPS app was born.
“We started off to put it in a car to help 15- and 16-year-olds drive. Then, as time progressed, the app started — so we decided to put it in an app or a device,” he said.
The SIPS app for a smartphone allows a parent to find their child at any time, as well as set boundaries their child cannot leave without the parent being alerted. It also sets a maximum speed so the parent will be alerted if the teen driver exceeds it.
In addition, parents can be alerted if a teen is texting while driving and they can access a log of their child’s driving activities and the physical addresses of every place they stopped.
Hart said his company has done considerable research about teen driving and has utilized some sobering statistics from resources such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and insurance companies.
He said teens learn to drive at the age of 15 when parents are inside the car with them, typically in a neighborhood that is familiar and at controlled speeds. They eventually travel out onto the highway with adult supervision.
“When they turn 16, you give them the keys to the car and you think they are an experienced driver. Well, they are — around your neighborhood,” he said.
Hart said once the new teen drivers get the keys and are on their own, parents are no longer there to caution them to slow down, not to use the cell phone or to stay in their own neighborhood.
“They run 60 or 70 mph and then they have to stop, but they’re used to stopping at 45 mph. At 60 mph, it takes twice as long to stop, so they hit somebody,” he said. “They’re not bad drivers. They’re inexperienced drivers.”
And that’s where the SIPS app comes in.
“What this does is you are there — but you are at home,” Hart said.
“Every time they break your speed limit, you get a text. It will show you on a Google map where they were when the infraction occurred. If you put a boundary of the city limits of Union City and they go to Troy, as soon as they go outside the city limits, you get a text and it shows on a map where they are. If, on the Android, they pick up the phone and text while driving going faster than 5 mph, you get a text and it tells you. Then, if you haven’t heard from them and want to know where they are, you hit ‘find’ and it will show where they are.
“This thing works for you. It reports back,” he added. “It’s a great, great product for a 15- or 16-year-old.”
Since the device tracks a specific phone, the child does not have to be in a car — or even be driving — for the application to work. For example, the device will work if a child is riding their bicycle to the park or if a teen child is riding in a vehicle being driven by someone else.
“If your daughter gets in a truck or car with her boyfriend and he gets to running 80 mph, you will get a text and it will say she’s speeding — but you know she’s not driving and you know that he is,” Hart said, explaining the parents can then phone their child and take appropriate parental action to remove them from the speeding vehicle.
Hart said the technology provides the information that parents need, as well as a protection system.
“It protects (teen drivers) from their own self. It’s a peace of mind for mom and dad when they get 16 and they’re out on their own,” he said. “Maybe if you can control them long enough until they get some experience, they will live.”
Hart said he developed the technology because his own granddaughter was starting to drive.
“My granddaughter — she is the reason I did this,” he said.
“She was driving my truck from Troy to Dyersburg — open road, four-lane, very safe. She was 15 and had been driving for four weeks. I looked over and I thought we were running pretty fast, and she was running 75 mph. I told her to gently let off, slow off. I got her down to 50. The next thing we were at 60, the next time 55.
“An inexperienced driver does not know how fast they’re going. That’s what gets them in trouble. That’s why I thought about this. When she’s out by herself, I can keep her at 60. And then when I feel more comfortable … you can adjust it as their experience adjusts,” he said.
At any time, parents can increase their teen drivers’ speed limits and their boundaries as the children gain driving experience — eventually coming to the point when the application is no longer needed.
“If it just saves one life, wouldn’t it be great if it was your child that it saved? If it just saves one …” Hart said.
In addition, Hart said the new technology is also a great tool for senior citizens or those with dementia who want to retain their independence by continuing to drive.
“You put a boundary. If they get lost and go too far down the highway, as soon as they cross the boundary, you would get a message,” he said. “You could find them before they’re hours away. It’s peace of mind.”
How to get it
Hart wanted to make his SIPS app affordable for everyone. It is available for a one-time fee of $9.99 and there is no monthly fee.
“I made it affordable. I don’t care if you’re unemployed, what your income is, you can afford $9.99 one time,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t exclude anybody. I want everybody to be able to watch their kids, protect them.”
Information about SIPS can be found online at www.itrackmychild.com. A link for SIPS is also available at his company website at www.hart-tech.com.
The Android application has been available since about mid-January and the iPhone application since about mid-March. The application has sold worldwide and Hart has gained national exposure and endorsement with appearances on 27 television stations — including CNN and Headline News — and two talk radio stations.
He said other technology companies have looked at his device and have used SIPS as a model, but their teen driver applications don’t offer everything his app offers.
Hart has hired a company to help with development and marketing. He said he has a strong interest in sharing the information about SIPS with school organizations and eighth- and ninth-grade students who are nearing driving age, as well as placing brochures in Department of Motor Vehicle offices so parents can read about the tool while their children are taking their driving tests.
Mothers Against Dis-tracted Driving and other organizations are also reviewing the product and “mulling it over,” he said.
“But if it only sells 500 and it saves two lives, it was well worth the money spent,” Hart said.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 6.2.11