At first glance, Scott Rownin’s Samsung Galaxy S III does not stand out. It receives and makes calls, chimes with incoming emails and text messages and displays a screen full of apps.
But when he gets behind the wheel and hits the road, the smartphone changes. A few seconds after he shifts the gear into drive, the phone falls silent and the apps on its home screen vanish, replaced by a shield with a winding road and the words “SafeRide.” Tapping the screen or pressing the home button will not restore the device’s normal settings. Its screen and hardware buttons will be disabled and audio muted as long as he is driving.
The lockdown of Rownin’s phone is not a glitch; it is by design. His phone is temporarily disabled because it is using SafeRide, a new program the Westport resident has developed. It locks a phone automatically when a user is operating a vehicle with SafeRide hardware.
“It’s like Nicorette for texting,” Rownin said of SafeRide during a demo last week in downtown Westport. “The benefit there is that all of those little dings that make you want to grab your phone and see who just texted or emailed you go away. Eventually, you sort of kick the habit and move on.”
SafeRide-equipped phones work normally when users are not driving and do not interfere with passengers’ phones.