Smart Box may reduce deaths on UAE roads

IBM and UAE University have developed a Smart Box for cars. The duo hope the device will reduce the number of deaths caused by the road accidents in the UAE.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  October 3, 2004

IBM and UAE University have developed a Smart Box for cars. The duo hope the device will reduce the number of deaths caused by the road accidents in the UAE. The Smart Box, unveiled at Gitex yesterday, will go into full production this year. “This is a major breakthrough in our efforts to cut down on the number of people dying in car accidents caused by speeding. We have produced a device that monitors speed limits on every single road in the UAE,” says Dr. Rafiq Maki, Dean of the College of IT at UAE University. “What we have created is the equivalent of the black box flight recorder that is used in aircrafts,” he adds. UAE University has been working with IBM on the development of the Smart Box since May last year. It will be available in shops by May 2005. The system being showcased at Gitex has four main applications: the comfort zone; the safety zone; the maintenance zone and the efficiency zone. While features such as the comfort and maintenance zones help with navigation and vehicle maintenance, the most significant development is the safety zone. The device integrates GSM, GPRS, GPS and voice recognition into the vehicle. “Using this system, the box talks to the driver when he [or she] is travelling above the designated speed limit on any UAE road. The box gives out a verbal warning, and if this warning is ignored three times, the box automatically sends the information to the traffic department, which will then issue a speeding ticket,” says Dr. Maki. “You could say this is a form of self-regulation, but it is the only way forward. More than one person a day dies in a road accident in the UAE and this has to stop.” Big Blue is now working with UAE University on the commercial aspects of the product, which it is hopes to market in a similar price range to hand-held GSM devices. The model that will appear in shops is the ‘sample B’ version, but IBM is already working on ‘sample C’ that will include many more wireless applications. Expected to launch in 2006, the ‘sample C’ Smart Box will be an integrated communications device that Big Blue and UAE University believe will revolutionise driving. “When that comes out, the sample C box will tell the driver when they are driving past their favourite restaurant and where the next traffic jam is,” explains Dr. Maki.

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