Tiwi monitors and mentors teen drivers


January 17, 2011

The tiwi is a device that electronically monitors and mentors teen drivers

The tiwi is a device that electronically monitors and mentors teen drivers

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Teens may not be poor drivers by their very nature, but they are inexperienced drivers, and as such they may not even be aware of the fact that they’re speeding, paying insufficient attention to the road, or driving like complete maniacs. A parent or other experienced driver can advise them when they’re riding shotgun, but sooner or later, they’ve got to be allowed out on their own. The tiwi, a new device unveiled at CES this month, is intended to act as an electronic version of that ride-along parent – it makes teen drivers aware of their transgressions when they’re driving alone.

Manufactured by inthinc, the tiwi mounts on the inside of the vehicle’s windshield. It is equipped with an accelerometer and GPS, and is wired into the vehicle’s onboard computer. Utilizing this and other technology, it verbally lets teens know when they’re driving significantly over the posted speed limit, when they’re driving too aggressively (such as accelerating, braking or turning too hard), and when their seat belt isn’t fastened. It also disables their mobile phones while the vehicle is in motion, but allows for hands-free calls to or from a pre-assigned phone number in case of emergencies.

Via a web portal for the device, parents can tweak parameters such as how far over the speed limit their kids are allowed to drive. They can also set up SmartZones via Google Maps, that will alert them when their teens enter or exit certain predefined geographical areas – useful for knowing when they’ve left from or arrived at school, for instance, or just for being nosy.

Parents can be notified about their teens’ driving events via text messaging, email or phone, however... to make things easier for the teens, there is an optional and parent-adjustable grace period after each verbal warning. If the young driver corrects their wrongdoing within that amount of time, their parents need never hear about it. The inthinc rep at CES explained to us that this provides more incentive for the teens to improve their driving – if they realize they can avoid getting in trouble by driving better, they’ll do it, but if they figure that they’ve already been caught, then why bother?

The portal also produces report cards on the youths’ driving, with the intention that their confidence will improve as they see a tangible record of their advancing driving skills.

The tiwi is actually the simplified “civilian” version of a similar system that inthinc designed for businesses to monitor their fleet drivers. It is available through the company website, and costs between US$299.99 and $599.99, depending on the data plan selected.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

This device, attached to the windshield, would be illegal in Minnesota. That US State allows nothing at all to be stuck to the windshield, other than factory provided equipment. It would also be illegal to stick to the windshield in California, except for in the lower corners.

The real target of those bans is radar detectors. The lower corner locations in California are supposedly to allow GPS units to be stuck there, but those locations are pretty much useless for anything you have to look at.

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It can also attach to the dashboard.


Great article on the dangers of texting while driving and the Tiwi monitors. Former American Idol champion Jordin Sparks and the Jonas Brothers are working together in a campaign called \"X the TXT\" aimed at curbing distracted teen driving deaths. For more information on the program visit Allstate Insurance Digital Newsroom.

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