AT&T sponsored a legitimate competition to create an app that helps reduce distracted driving and an 11 year old girl beat a field of professional developers to win the $20,000 prize. The money will go towards further development and marketing of the app.
Victoria Walker, a sixth grader, showed a video and a slideshow presentation of her app called “Rode Dog” to a panel of judges. The app enables users to create small social networks (a “pack” of friends and family) who are held accountable to each other. GPS tracks the location of each person in the pack at all times and alerts others whenever someone in the pack is using their phone and driving at the same time.
Once alerted, users within the social network can send barking sounds to the offending individuals to remind and encourage them to stop put the phone down while driving. The app generates revenue by enabling users to download sounds of different animals for 99 cents and create their own unique “bark”.
The contest judges liked the app for its potential to go viral (sending barks could be fun and addictive) and it’s potential as a money maker (where other entries offered prizes and gifts if phone use was avoided, this app had an actual model for multiple .99 cent downloads per user).
AT&T called this this event their “It Can Wait” hackathon, the title referring to the fact that texts and phone calls can wait until the car ride is over. The initial event attracted more than 120 people from which five finalists were giving 10 more days to further develop their app and final pitch to the judges.
The app “Safe Car Key,” created by developers Cheston Contaoi and Mikhail Yurasov, won second place and $7,000. The developers built both software and hardware to demonstrate their app, which actually shuts the car down if the phone is removed from a loading dock built into the car.
“Drive Pledge” won third place and $3,000. Created by developers Michael Bleigh, Jake Johnson and Francisco Ramos, it rewarded drivers with phone apps, games and songs for every mile they drove without texting or using their phone.
All three winning teams plan to use their prize money to further develop their apps and market them.
Submitted by Scott Feifer