RoadView Hack Is A Black Box App For Cars To Settle Insurance Disputes Or For Social Kicks

YouTube could be filled with a whole lot more Police, Camera, Action!style videos if this hack, put together overnight here at the TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 hackathon, keeps on rolling. The app buffers a recording of video from the car’s front-view camera — with the idea being to allow the driver to selectively capture footage of accidents, dangerous driving or just record some beautiful scenery for posterity. Or, hey, even a massive meteor trail.

The hack is the work of LA-based developers Rupert Ralston and Nick Ghirardelli, plus designer Peter Green.

RoadView is basically a black box for cars but Ralston says they didn’t want it to sound “too morbid” — hence the inclusion of a share to YouTube function, to oil the wheels of a social use case. Everyone loves videos of other people’s terrible driving, after all.

Recordings can be triggered manually, for instance by using in-car voice recognition tech and telling the app to start a recording, or automatically when the car’s airbags are deployed (i.e. in an accident scenario). The recording captures the last 60 seconds of footage from the car’s camera at the point of trigger. That buffer gives it plenty of leeway to capture accidents that are serious enough to result in airbags being deployed. “Most accidents happen in seven seconds,” notes Ghirardelli.

In addition to driving footage, the app captures other data and associates it with the recording, including the time, location, car’s speed and the weather conditions (all data that could be very useful to back up an insurance claim, for instance). It also visually indicates how hard the driver is braking at the time the recording was taken.

The team used Chevrolet’s API, while the app itself is specifically designed for the Chevrolet Malibu which includes a front-view camera — something that’s surely going to be built into more and more cars as standard in future.

Future features the team envisages adding — if they end up turning this hack into a fully fledged app — could be a button to send data to law enforcement (if you’ve spotted someone driving dangerously, say), and one to send data to your insurance company, says Ralston.

Backstage interview with RoadView’s Ralston and Green follows below: