Would you believe that parents are more guilty of distracted driving than their-often accused teenagers? According to recent studies, as many at 49 percent of commuters admit to texting while driving, compared to just 43 percent of teens. Another study found that not only do parents text and drive just as often as their teens, but they do so when said teens are in the car with them, too—83 percent of teens surveyed by Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions said they’d seen their parents behave in risky behavior while driving. 83 percent!
The Birth of Kittmatic
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and software engineer Naveed Ghalib started Kittmatic as a solution to a need felt by a very specific mother, indeed—his wife, and the mother of his children. “I am basically making this device for my wife (also a mom) and I think it can benefit other moms out there,” Ghalib says. “I worry about her calling me to let me know that she is running late or whether she picked up our daughter from school or not.”
Ghalib and his wife weren’t satisfied with current options for hands-free driving: “My wife doesn’t find Siri useful all the time,” Ghalib says. “She actually never uses it, especially since we have unconventional names.” Ghalib bemoaned the fact that with Siri, his wife often had to look down to physically check the text before she sent it. He was inspired also due to his own struggles: “Just looking up gas stations became a problem while driving,” he says. So he looked for a shortcut, and thought of an actual, physical button. Kittmatic was born.
How it Works
Kittmatic is (or will be—the company is hoping to manufacture the device in time for Mother’s Day 2015) a device that mounts on a car’s visor and works in conjunction with a free app on your smartphone. With the press of one real, physical button, Kittmatic can direct you home, call someone, or find the nearest gas station. Ghalib has left the device simple purposefully, he says, because his audience is “generally not very tech savvy.”
“There is a free app on the phone which allows you to save addresses, emergency contacts, spouse information, and such,” Ghalib says. “The device itself is nothing but buttons, a coin cell battery, and Bluetooth.” Your spouse will need the app, too, in order to receive push notifications when the buttons are pressed.
Named for Ghalib’s favorite childhood TV show, Knight Rider—for those of you too young to remember, the starring car’s name was KITT—it was only after Ghalib had finished the design of the product that he realized it met the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s distracted driving guidelines for devices. “I honestly looked at that a little after coming up with the invention,” Ghalib admits. The guidelines state that any device like Kittmatic should require only a glance away from the road of two seconds or less: “Most of the time I don’t even have to look at the button,” Ghalib says. “I can feel my way to the button and press it.”
His goal for the device is simple: “The ultimate dream is that you can leave your phone in your pocket during your entire trip,” he says. Ghalib aims to set retail price for the device at $55. But the campaign hasn’t officially launched yet. Until October 21st, you can sign up using your email on kittmatic.com and receive a $15 off coupon, but the company is not yet collecting funds. “We are trying to understand market demand and gather valuable feedback so we can make a great product,” Ghalib says.
Let us know your thoughts on Kittmatic in the comments. Could the device be the solution parents didn’t know they needed?