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State Farm releases Driver Feedback app

Wed, 04 May 2011

Accelerometers aren't just for the autocross geeks who want to see whether they threw more than 1.0 lateral g's on their last apex. These gadgets have made their way to the iPhone.

State Farm is releasing its Driver Feedback app, which uses the iPhone's high-tech guts (accelerometer, gyroscope and digital compass) to measure driving habits such as smoothness or aggressiveness during acceleration, frequency and abruptness of braking and how hard you take corners (ahem, BMW owners).

These quantified driving measurements are shoved through an algorithm to generate a score out of 100. And, no, you don't score a 100 if your style resembles Mario Andretti on a track.

As cool as all of this sounds, we wonder whether it's less Big App(le) and more Big Brother. No doubt it will be used by parents to check on their kids' driving habits, and it could (and probably will, we think) be used by State Farm to determine your insurance rates. Next, will states push the use of these on everyone's phone?

Good or bad, you can thank motion-sensing MEMS technology, used in the Nintendo Wii, for this tool. Apple just happens to be the world's second biggest buyer of MEMS. So, the next time you get filleted by your wife or your insurance company because you scored a 32, you'll have Steve Jobs to thank.

Amos Kwon is a correspondent for Gear Patrol.

By Amos Kwon- Gear Patrol