Wednesday, September 17, 2008

L.A. train engineer may have been text messaging before crash

Laws that ban text messaging while driving have been catching on and if theories about the worst train crash in fifteen years prove to be true expect the bans to spread like wildfire. Today, it was reported that at least one of the friends of the train engineer had received a text message from the engineer within a minute of the crash. This may help explain why he inexplicably blew through a red light and multiple warning signs to careen into a freight train killing at least 18 people.

The fact is that text messaging does have an addictive quality. It's so addictive that while driving I oftentimes can't resist the temptation to text.

I think this issue is going to drive a lot of mobile innovation leveraging voice as the input. The massive distraction with texting is when you are trying to key in your outbound message. If you could just speak your message, have it transcribed ACCURATELY and easily direct it to the appropriate contact, I think the issue is solved and text junkies can continue texting away.

The issue today is that transcription of voice to text remains sketchy at best. I think the folks at Vlingo are doing the best job by providing speaker-dependent transcription technology but the need for an app on your phone is a bit limiting.

In any event, make sure you don't crash your car because you are texting - and let me know what type of mobile innovation you think might be spawned by the bans that will likely lead to a texting withdraw syndrome that will, in-turn, create a lucrative counseling service for texting commuters who are in withdrawal.

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