Hillel's Tech Corner: Inpris: Our nerve center

Our smartphone has become our nerve center.

Inpris. (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
 When people ask me what is the most exciting technology I’ve ever seen, or what sector of tech I think has the brightest future, I consistently say it’s the way we interact with our devices, which in my opinion, is going to fundamentally change in the next few years.
Think about how primitive it is that we use a mouse to interact with a computer or that we stare at a big slab of glass all day to interact with our phones. Some of the technologies that will change the way we interact with computers include virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, but those are topics for another time.
This field of human computer interaction is, of course, magnified in importance when we talk about driving. Yes, I realize that no one should be texting and driving, but as we see from the numbers, people use their phones regularly when they’re behind the wheel. It’s sad, but it’s true.
Along comes an Israeli company called Inpris – that I’ve been following for a long time – and says, “Maybe instead of telling people to not use their phones, which clearly doesn’t work, perhaps it’s time to let us interact with our phones in a safe way while never taking our eyes off the road.”
Our smartphone has become our nerve center.
Many of us want to stay connected while driving, but we all understand that phones create distracted driving. The US National Safety Council estimates that one quarter of all car accidents are related to phone use. In Israel, the Transportation Ministry recently estimated that number to be half of all car accidents. That is a truly insane statistic.
This is also a huge financial problem. US employers lost almost $57 billion in 2018 as a result of car accidents.
This begs the question: Why do we still have this problem when in-car infotainment systems are becoming more and more advanced, and voice assistants are widely used? Why are people still touching their phones when driving?
Well, it turns out that not only do voice assistants not reduce distractions, researchers found that AndroidAuto and Apple CarPlay can actually be more dangerous than drinking and driving! This is true because they create a high cognitive workload for the driver.
That explains why distraction-related car accidents aren’t dropping despite (or should we say because of) the increase of connected services in cars.
Recently, there have been many more initiatives to ban smartphone use while driving altogether, suggesting that we should turn the wheel back to the ‘80s and stop being connected while driving. There has to be a better way.
Inpris believes that technology’s role is to enable us, not to limit our abilities. If the current technologies failed in creating a safe connectivity environment, it doesn’t mean that connectivity is a bad thing, but that we need an alternate connectivity solution.
Inpris produced the world’s first mobile (portable) infotainment system, which works completely differently than anything you’ve seen before.
WHEN WE work out or play music, our bodies learn the movements and store them in the back of our brains, enabling us to multi-task while making those movements. That’s called muscle memory.
Inpris utilizes muscle memory with machine-learning algorithms to enable sightless control of the phone’s applications as if they were any other driving-related task. By using Inpris technology repeatedly, your body will learn how to create macro commands on your phone without thinking.
So how does the system work?
The buttons you know from your steering wheel operate analogue commands such as changing the radio’s volume or turning the lights off, but they don’t help much with controlling the apps on your phone.
However, Inpris’s mobile infotainment system brings back the tactile feel of the buttons, but for controlling the applications on the phone.
Using Inpris’s system, you can start a desirable playlist on Spotify, then launch a navigation command, skip to the next song on the playlist, call a favorite contact, jump back to the navigation app during the call, switch to another destination, change to an online radio station, launch a camera app and take a snapshot, then send a WhatsApp message and go back to the navigation screen.
Sounds risky and complicated, right?
The driver can do all of that at lightning speed, without touching the phone or stopping music, and without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel.
An AI algorithm enhances your productivity over time, anticipating your next move, making it ready for a fast and easy operation.
It doesn’t end there. By letting the driver provide context before stating the voice command, the system calibrates to the required feature before the driver says the command.
That way, voice commands are as short as a single word, making it the fastest voice-enabled command with almost 100% accuracy, like no other system.
Inpris also goes a step further to provide interactive AI-powered access to internal functions within third-party apps such as Spotify, YouTube, Waze, Google Maps, WhatsApp, and more.
A driver can say a brand name – for example, Starbucks – and the system will instantly show a list of branches organized by distance from the driver.
The driver then scrolls through the list (while the system reads the options out loud), selects the desired branch, and instantly starts navigating. That’s just one example of how intelligent the system is.
In an increasingly fragmented world where drivers often switch several vehicles during the day (car, bike, scooter, etc.), Inpris’s unique portable structure lets the driver personalize every car or two-wheeler instantly, so drivers don’t need to learn dozens of different patterns based on specific car systems, or to fundamentally change their driving experience, because who has the time to learn all these new menus? Just mount the Inpris control hub to the steering wheel and you instantly personalize the car or vehicle for your best experience.
But what about autonomous cars? Aren’t they expected to take over in the coming years, thereby making Inpris obsolete? The vast majority of self-driving cars in the upcoming years will only reach automation level 2 and 3, which means that the driver is required to keep their eyes on the road for monitoring the car’s performance or the self-driving function will be automatically turned off.
THE UPCOMING 2022 regulations in the EU require original equipment manufacturers to monitor distracted driving and alert drivers when they aren’t looking on the road. This means that drivers who are used to touching their phone occasionally wouldn’t be able to do so without causing the car to signal an alert.
When the level 5 automation does finally arrive, Inpris tech will ensure an advanced and comfortable experience for the passengers by letting them operate augmented-reality projection, or the distanced screen, without having to look down.
The company’s strategy is an online distribution for every driver and two-wheeler rider in the world who wants to enjoy a safer, superior driving experience.
US employers paid a record of $56 billion in 2018 for car-accident damages. Inpris’s B2B strategy targets fleets, which are eagerly searching for a solution.
Did you know that Uber and Lyft drivers are required to touch the phone within 15 seconds from receiving a new ride or they miss the opportunity, regardless of their driving conditions? Inpris tech would help these and other taxi drivers all over the world to control their phone and accept rides without touching their phones.
Inpris was founded by Nissan Yaron and Ben-Etzion Yaron.
Nissan, a major in the reserves in Israeli intelligence with technology expertise, graduated from the leading Israeli film school: the Sam Spiegel Film and television school in Jerusalem.
Ben-Etzion, Nissan’s father, was a hi-tech veteran who was the head of the computerized human resources department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was granted patents and awards for his work.
During work on a documentary film that Nissan was making about his father’s life story, he told him his idea. What happened next is that Ben-Etzion left his job at the university, and Nissan left filmmaking. They decided to establish Inpris to bring the idea of controlling touch screens without looking at thm into reality. Nissan is the CEO and Ben-Etzion is the CTO.
Inpris has raised approximately $2 million from angel investors from New York and California as well as from several Israeli angels. The company won a EU Horizon 2020 grant and a $400,000 grant from the Israel Innovation Authority. A new funding round is currently underway with an eye to support the company’s global expansion and additional R&D.
Inpris also won a first-place award at Ford Motors’ “Make it Drivable” competition. Inpris was also a finalist at the Paris Motor Show start-ups contest and won an industry award for “Most User-Friendly Human-Machine Interface Feature” at the CAR-HMI Berlin industry convention.
There are currently a few thousand private drivers in Israel who have purchased the system are using it intensively. Inpris has initial distribution agreements in the EU, pilots in Mexico and Japan, and it is preparing for its US launch while increasing its traction from leading players.
We all know how dangerous texting and driving is. The question is: Is there a way to solve this problem without telling drivers not to access their phones, making them disconnected for the remainder of the ride? Inpris believes there is, and they are hyper-focused on building it.