Drivemode Raises $2 Million For An App Drivers Can Use With out Wanting At Their Telephone
Ideally, nobody would use their smartphone whereas driving. Realistically, individuals do – typically placing themselves, their passengers and others on the street in peril. A brand new firm rising from stealth right now and backed by $2 million in seed funding, Drivemode, needs to make the interface for utilizing a smartphone within the automotive safer and simpler with a new Android-based mostly app that allows you to use your telephone with out truly taking a look at it.
The Drivemode app presents entry to widespread telephone features like calls, messages, navigation, apps, and music and makes use of a mixture of voice narration to let you already know the place you’re on the menu. As well as, it makes use of brilliant colours and large animations to allow you to see your telephone display utilizing solely your peripheral imaginative and prescient.
“We’re working with automakers to ensure our interface is sweet sufficient to even be embedded within the automotive,” explains Drivemode co-founder and CEO Yo Koga. He says he can’t but affirm any offers with automakers on that entrance, however is in discussions with a number of.
“There are tips from the federal government to make sure that you don’t have to take a look at the display for greater than two seconds per look,” he provides. “However we’re making an attempt to make it zero by radically simplifying the interactions.”
Koga, born and raised in Japan, beforehand hung out in Boston as a VC after attending Harvard Enterprise Faculty. He additionally led worldwide partnerships at Zipcar. However it wasn’t till he relocated to work for a startup in California that he actually started to get annoyed with the driving expertise basically.
Smartphone interfaces have been designed for use whereas held in your arms with small buttons it’s a must to find and contact, Koga says. There wasn’t a very good interface for utilizing the telephone within the automotive, he discovered.
In fact, that’s not solely true – Google has “Automotive House,” for instance, which gives huge buttons you possibly can faucet extra simply whereas on the wheel. And there are numerous comparable apps additionally available on the market. There’s additionally a subset of apps for drivers targeted on auto-responding to texts or studying them aloud, in addition to embedded methods for autos like MyFord Contact and Sync. Nevertheless, I’d need to agree with Koga that none have completely nailed the interface for this type of factor, and customers might not really feel snug sufficient with any of those options to make use of them blindly.
Drivemode, however, needs to make its app one thing you would use with out taking a look at your telephone in any respect, as its video (see under) humorously demonstrates.
As an alternative of simply providing greater buttons or suggesting that you simply flip the app on after which solely function it by voice, Drivemode customers swipe by way of the menu whereas the varied decisions are introduced with voice narration. Along with the colours and animations, the app additionally makes use of sensible know-how to study your behaviors as a way to make higher suggestions. For instance, it will probably study your routine to be able to transfer frequent locations (like “residence”) as much as the highest of the listing as navigation choices, or it may recommend favourite contacts (like your partner) whenever you head into the Calls part.
You possibly can even entry your telephone’s apps via Drivemode, together with these for enjoying music and others, too. And it has supporting options widespread to apps on this class, like incoming message readout and auto-reply to calls and messages.
$2 Million In Funding And $10K From Weblog Readers
The corporate, now a staff of six based mostly in each San Jose and Japan additionally consists of co-founders Hokuto Ueda (who’s at present full-time at Tesla), plus mechanical engineer/Android developer Hiro Nakagawa.
Drivemode is backed totally by Tokyo-based mostly Incubate Fund, which usually invests in native corporations, however opted to spend money on U.S.-headquartered Drivemode due to its potential to attraction to a worldwide viewers. “Use of smartphones as an alternative of in-car navigation methods is turning into a very international development, and Drivemode can see vast adoption throughout many nations the place Android is used,” says Incubate GP Tohru Akaura, in a press release.
Along with the funding, Koga was additionally capable of construct his group, appeal to funding and even furnish his workplace because of his standing as an influential Japanese blogger. Readers donated over $10,000 after he introduced on a submit that he was leaving Globespan Capital Companions to do a startup.
Restricted Invitations Out there
Drivemode is launching immediately for a restricted variety of beta testers within the U.S. Worldwide customers can present an e mail handle to be alerted to future expansions. After downloading the Android software from the corporate web site (not Google Play), you need to use the activation code TCMODE to right away get began.