Collision detection systems usually use some sort of front-facing radar or laser array to monitor the distance between a moving vehicle and the car ahead of it. A new app call iOnRoad takes a different tack by using little more than a smartphone to provide collision detection with an augmented-reality view.
Once a smartphone running the app is mounted on a car's windshield or dashboard, iOnRoad combines the visual information collected by the smartphone's camera with GPS and accelerometer data to provide information about the road ahead on the smartphone's display. The vehicle in the lane ahead of the driver is displayed and marked with a time gap in seconds, indicating how far behind the lead vehicle the driver is and how much time there would be to react in an emergency. Additionally, the road between the iOnRoad-equipped vehicle and the car ahead is marked with a colored overlay that goes from green for a safe following distance to yellow to red when you're following too closely.
In the event that the driver's attention lapses and the vehicle ahead stops or slows suddenly, iOnRoad will flash a full-screen alert and audio warning to grab the driver's attention and attempt to avert an accident. iOnRoad can also be set to run in the background, leaving the screen free for navigation while it continues to keep an eye on the road (get it?) for potential accidents. Check out the video below to see the app in action:
OEM collision-detection systems are usually tied into the braking system and have the advantage of often being able to actually stop the car, but for those who want a bit of extra safety without buying a whole new car, this app may be worth a second look. iOnRoad is coming soon to the Android Market, but is currently in closed private beta. Stay tuned for our hands-on impressions as soon as we get our invite.