Device would disable text function on driver's phones

Boulder-based company launching text disabler

BOULDER, Colo. - At any given moment, about 660,000 drivers in the U.S. are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving.

Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic, killing thousands of people every year.

Now, Colorado scientist, Scott Tibbits, who previously developed motors for spacecraft for NASA, has come up with a way to put an end to texting and driving.

It's called the "Groove" device. It is smaller than your phone and plugs right into your car.

"It's a module that plugs into the socket underneath the steering wheel that you probably didn't know you had," said Tibbits.

As soon as you start the car, texting and social media apps on your are disabled by the device that talks to the "cloud."

"It works on any phone -- past, present and future," said Tibbits.

Tibbits calls his Boulder-based company, Katasi, which is shortened version of a Greek word for "hush."

Groove could be on the market as early as next summer.

"We're getting very close," said Tibbits of negotiations with some cell phone carriers.

The one-of-a-kind device was inspired by two paths crossing after one deadly crash. The victim of that crash was someone Tibbits was scheduled to meet the same day as the crash.

It was Diane Misgen's husband, David, who died in 2008 when he was t-boned by a distracted driver.

"I'm really excited about the technology and what Scott has done," said Misgen from her home in Brighton. "We can't quantify the lives, but I know somebody won't have to go through what I had to."

"I'm doing this because of the idea that it's so senseless," said Tibbits. "You're typing 'LOL,' or, 'I'll be there in a minute,' and all of the sudden four people or five people are killed."

Texting and driving is the subject of countless PSA's now, and is banned in more than 40 states, including here in Colorado.

"It shouldn't be happening and we're here to stop that," he said.

"Groove" not only works while your driving, but keeps texting disabled until you stop, park and turn off the car. It also disables social media apps, but allows you to access the phone, navigation and music apps.

You can also sync multiple cell phones to a single "Groove" unit, tying all the phones in your family together.

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