Cell Phone Accessories

Moobitalk takes a low-tech approach to allow hands-free car conversations

Cell phone usage while driving is not only dangerous, but illegal in most states. Many people, however, must suffer a long commute to work and simply can’t remain silent during the whole ride, whether they’re talking to work or their families. Moobitalk seeks to give commuters a way to take on the phone hands-free. It attaches to the seatbelt once it is already fastened. Then, when a call comes in, simply hit speaker phone and attach the phone’s screen to Moobitalk. It uses micro-suction technology to keep the phone in place without damaging the screen. Backers can nab the Swedish-made Moobitalk for £18 (~$29) with an estimated delivery date of December 2014. The hands-free device is hoping to raise £34,000 (~$54,000) on Kickstarter.

Moobitalk is a good idea, but executed poorly. Like many other car-centric devices, GPS’s and DVD players included, Moobitalk requires some setting up before use. So, while the driver is talking there are no hands being used, an incoming call still requires some set up. An ear-attached hands-free device that only requires the push of a button for picking and hanging up calls may be more safe for chatty drivers on the road. In addition, many newer cars come equipped with built-in Bluetooth technology, meaning that pretty soon most hands-free devices will be deemed unnecessary.

Automotive Displays

Drivemotion Animator uses rear-window flashings to start, stop road rage

The Premise. When driving, sometimes it’s necessary to communicate with other drivers. Whether you want to thank them, flip them off or even flirt with them, one can risk distraction.

The Product. The Drivemotion Animator is a round screen full of LEDs that suctions to the back windshield of a car. It displays messages to drivers behind you. The messages are controlled from a remote that’s attached to the front windshield of the car. The product has pre-programmed messages such as “Thank you”, “Sorry”, and an assortment of smiley or sad faces. An accompanying software program also lets you program in your very own messages and animations.

The Pitch. Drivemotion Animator’s video shows how to use the software program that goes with the product along with the creator’s explanation of why one may want to flirt with other drivers. The rest of the campaign goes through prototypes as well as pledge levels and possible messages to program the Animator with. The Drivemotion Animator hopes to raise a modest $5,000 in a 30-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. For different donation amounts, backers can receive the Drivemotion with different amounts of freedom. The $45 level gets backers the Drivemotion “Pure faces” that comes with a series of emoticon faces. For $59, the Drivemotion EX-version comes with faces that become more intense upon pushing a button repeatedly. To create unique animations, backers must shell out $67 and up. Reward levels have estimated delivery dates of June and July 2014.

The Potential. Where once car passengers had to handwrite signs to other drivers, they can now use the Drivemotion Animator. The use of a simple remote control makes it mostly harmless in navigating parking lots or roads with sparse traffic, one can only imagine what the less courteous on the road might animate. Flirting and road rage messages are especially disruptive and should probably be avoided. All in all, it’s probably a better for drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel than sending a smiley to the cutie they just cut off.