iCarBlackBox: Like Having a Lawyer Riding Shotgun?

iCarBlackBox: Like Having a Lawyer Riding Shotgun?

A new little app called iCarBlackBox caught my eye this week.

It was introduced by a company of the same name and the press release from its spokesperson even included a YouTube video link. Now, besides the fact that the movie clip includes what appears to be bootlegged copyrighted crash scenes, the information provided delivers some of the bad news about this product.

First, one must activate the app on the smartphone each time you prepare to hit the road. And the only thing that will be recorded on video is what is in view of the lens. If you want to record rear-enders as well, then a second smartphone in the rear glass will be required. (And side impacts likewise. For full coverage and protection, you’d have to get yourself six or eight smartphones each loaded with this app.)

iCarBlackBox: Like Having a Lawyer Riding Shotgun?

Second, the smartphone will become a dangerous flying object when your vehicle is involved in a violent crash as most (windshield) mounts will give way during a significant impact.

Third, the app does not call emergency services automatically. A message is displayed stating the app believes you may have been involved in an accident and recommends that you call 911 (or what ever number you entered while setting up the app). Then a button appears on the screen that you must press in order for the emergency number to be dialed.

iCarBlackBox: Like Having a Lawyer Riding Shotgun?

And let us not overlook the obvious that the accident must be located in an area that has cell coverage (not to mention the fact that you hope the glass screen of your phone is still intact after being thrown about).

iCarBlackBox: Like Having a Lawyer Riding Shotgun?

The lovely Asian spokesmodel in the video clip is certainly impressed with her statement that you can spend just 99 cents (US) on their app to replace a (more sophisticated) $300 black box, and that their app will even scare away masked marauders such as Black Bart or the boogeyman (or some 10-year-old punk armed with a squirt gun). Clearly, you get what you paid for.

iCarBlackBox: Like Having a Lawyer Riding Shotgun?

I did not take the opportunity to “crash” test this app, sorry. But the manufacturer did not either, so we are even on this one. Also, if you are the type that uses the vehicle’s brakes heavily and suddenly, or you drive in an area with plenty of potholes, be prepared to tell the app that you were not, after all, involved in an accident. Any input to the smartphone’s accelerometer will cause a “minor crash involvement” alarm, but the app will reset after five seconds if you choose not to manually tell it to cancel or record. For heavy impact detection the app will automatically record as the driver may not be able to activate it, like when your face is still reeling from the Mike Tyson wallop you just took from your airbag. And you get to see what kind of abuse your smartphone went through during the incident.

MSRP: $.99 (For the app; your attorney fees may be slightly higher.)

What I Like: I do like the fact that once the app is launched it will buffer what the lens sees in 10 minute chunks and once recording for an incident is activated the video that is saved goes back to the last restart of the buffered media. Video and audio is recorded but in the Lite version I tested (the “free” version) none of the G-sensor or speed info is played back. (Again, you get what you paid for.)

I believe this app has potential. At first blush it appeared very disappointing but after some test drives and a bit of open-mindedness I feel there is promise here.

iCarBlackBox: Like Having a Lawyer Riding Shotgun?

What Needs Improvement: Clear up a few spellcheck (and translation) errors, reset activation default to automatically call the emergency number in event of serious crash (or at least offer the user the choice to allow this), set detection threshold a bit higher and offer portrait as well as landscape modes for the record mode.
And please STOP using the statement “In the event of a car accident, you can be free from the matters of right and wrong.” You can’t. That is what lawyers are for.

 And here is part of their release:

iCarBlackBox is a software that combines a number of technologies (Video, Audio, GPS, G-Impact Sensor) to automatically record a car accident in the event a collision takes place.

There are 24 million auto accidents a year, and 2.4 million people are injured as a result.

With the “iCarBlackBox”, the user can be free from the matters of right and wrong in the event of a car accident.

The User can review the circumstances of the crash with the iCarBlackBox. The User can view what is occurring at the moment of the car crash in addition to the speed of the moving vehicle, date and time, location, road conditions, and more through video and audio.

If iCarBlackBox detects a certain degree of impact, it automatically sends an emergency message, which includes the exact location of the accident, to the User’s designated emergency contacts. iCarBlackBox is capable of sending SMS, emails, as well as directly dial 911 (or other local emergency numbers set by the User). iCarBlackBox will also send an emergency message and call for help in the event the User is involved in a severe accident and no one is around to help.

This App is not only good for drivers, but it is also an excellent idea for families with teenage drivers. Parents no longer have to lie awake at 1 a.m. wondering if they will get a call from an emergency room. They can receive SMS or emails the moment an accident is detected which include the exact GPS map location and other specifics of the accident. iCarBlackBox can give you the peace of mind you’ve been looking for.

Recommended Specifications for use of iCarBlackBox
iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iOS 3.1.3 or higher(iOS 4.2 tested). Please check your phone before purchasing this application.

Customizable Settings
Speedometer units (Metric/US)
Customizable recording time
Customizable G-sensor sensitivity depending on road conditions and type of car (sensitive ~ insensitive)
Emergency Contact List (SMS, email)
Customizable Emergency Message (Default Emergency message provided)

Additional Functions
The Emergency Recording button may be pressed to start recording in the event an impact was not detected, or additional recording is desired.

When a light impact is detected, the iCarBlackBox will automatically cancel the save function after 5 seconds if the User does not prompt the application to save.
When a hard impact is detected, the application will automatically save the recording after 10 seconds.
When a hard impact is detected, the application will send an emergency message as designated by the User.

Detailed Information
Send an accident movie file from the iPhone camera roll
Detects and saves accident point by GPS

Detects the speed and the type of the accident using an Oscilloscope Graph and G-sensor. (X-Up & Down movement (road condition), Y- Left &Right (side accident), Z -Front & Back movement (front & rear accident))

Accident point can be linked to Google Map App.

For more detailed information:

Download App (Full version):

Download App (Lite version for free):

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.

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