The Jerusalem Post

Our nerve center


When people ask me what is the most exciting technology I’ve ever seen, or what sector of tech I think has the brightest future, I consistent­ly say it’s the way we interact with our devices, which in my opinion, is going to fundamenta­lly change in the next few years.

Think about how primitive it is that we use a mouse to interact with a computer or that we stare at a big slab of glass all day to interact with our phones. Some of the technologi­es that will change the way we interact with computers include virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, but those are topics for another time.

This field of human computer interactio­n is, of course, magnified in importance when we talk about driving. Yes, I realize that no one should be texting and driving, but as we see from the numbers, people use their phones regularly when they’re behind the wheel. It’s sad, but it’s true.

Along comes an Israeli company called Inpris – that I’ve been following for a long time – and says, “Maybe instead of telling people to not use their phones, which clearly doesn’t work, perhaps it’s time to let us interact with our phones in a safe way while never taking our eyes off the road.”

Our smartphone has become our nerve center.

Many of us want to stay connected while driving, but we all understand that phones create distracted driving. The US National Safety Council estimates that one quarter of all car accidents are related to phone use. In Israel, the Transporta­tion Ministry recently estimated that number to be half of all car accidents. That is a truly insane statistic.

This is also a huge financial problem. US employers lost almost $57 billion in 2018 as a result of car accidents.

This begs the question: Why do we still have this problem when in-car infotainme­nt systems are becoming more and more advanced, and voice assistants are widely used? Why are people still touching their phones when driving?

Well, it turns out that not only do voice assistants not reduce distractio­ns, researcher­s found that AndroidAut­o and Apple CarPlay can actually be more dangerous than drinking and driving! This is true because they create a high cognitive workload for the driver.

That explains why distractio­n-related car accidents aren’t dropping despite (or should we say because of) the increase of connected services in cars.

Recently, there have been many more initiative­s to ban smartphone use while driving altogether, suggesting that we should turn the wheel back to the ‘80s and stop being connected while driving. There has to be a better way.

Inpris believes that technology’s role is to enable us, not to limit our abilities. If the current technologi­es failed in creating a safe connectivi­ty environmen­t, it doesn’t mean that connectivi­ty is a bad thing, but that we need an alternate connectivi­ty solution.

Inpris produced the world’s first mobile (portable) infotainme­nt system, which works completely differentl­y than anything you’ve seen before.

WHEN WE work out or play music, our bodies learn the movements and store them in the back of our brains, enabling us to multi-task while making those movements. That’s called muscle memory.

Inpris utilizes muscle memory with machine-learning algorithms to enable sightless control of the phone’s applicatio­ns as if they were any other driving-related task. By using Inpris technology repeatedly, your body will learn how to create macro commands on your phone without thinking. So how does the system work? The buttons you know from your steering wheel operate analogue commands such as changing the radio’s volume or turning the lights off, but they don’t help much with controllin­g the apps on your phone.

However, Inpris’s mobile infotainme­nt system brings back the tactile feel of the buttons, but for controllin­g the applicatio­ns on the phone.

Using Inpris’s system, you can start a desirable playlist on Spotify, then launch a navigation command, skip to the next song on the playlist, call a favorite contact, jump back to the navigation app during the call, switch to another destinatio­n, change to an online radio station, launch a camera app and take a snapshot, then send a WhatsApp message and go back to the navigation screen.

Sounds risky and complicate­d, right?

The driver can do all of that at lightning speed, without touching the phone or stopping music, and without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel.

An AI algorithm enhances your productivi­ty over time, anticipati­ng your next move, making it ready for a fast and easy operation.

It doesn’t end there. By letting the driver provide context before stating the voice command, the system calibrates to the required feature before the driver says the command.

That way, voice commands are as short as a single word, making it the fastest voice-enabled command with almost 100% accuracy, like no other system.

Inpris also goes a step further to provide interactiv­e AI-powered access to internal functions within third-party apps such as Spotify, YouTube, Waze, Google Maps, WhatsApp, and more.

A driver can say a brand name – for example, Starbucks – and the system will instantly show a list of branches organized by distance from the driver.

The driver then scrolls through the list (while the system reads the options out loud), selects the desired branch, and instantly starts navigating. That’s just one example of how intelligen­t the system is.

In an increasing­ly fragmented world where drivers often switch several vehicles during the day (car, bike, scooter, etc.), Inpris’s unique portable structure lets the driver personaliz­e every car or two-wheeler instantly, so drivers don’t need to learn dozens of different patterns based on specific car systems, or to fundamenta­lly change their driving experience, because who has the time to learn all these new menus? Just mount the Inpris control hub to the steering wheel and you instantly personaliz­e the car or vehicle for your best experience.

But what about autonomous cars? Aren’t they expected to take over in the coming years, thereby making Inpris obsolete? The vast majority of self-driving cars in the upcoming years will only reach automation level 2 and 3, which means that the driver is required to keep their eyes on the road for monitoring the car’s performanc­e or the self-driving function will be automatica­lly turned off.

THE UPCOMING 2022 regulation­s in the EU require original equipment manufactur­ers to monitor distracted driving and alert drivers when they aren’t looking on the road. This means that drivers who are used to touching their phone occasional­ly wouldn’t be able to do so without causing the car to signal an alert.

When the level 5 automation does finally arrive, Inpris tech will ensure an advanced and comfortabl­e experience for the passengers by letting them operate augmented-reality projection, or the distanced screen, without having to look down.

The company’s strategy is an online distributi­on for every driver and two-wheeler rider in the world who wants to enjoy a safer, superior driving experience.

US employers paid a record of $56 billion in 2018 for car-accident damages. Inpris’s B2B strategy targets fleets, which are eagerly searching for a solution.

Did you know that Uber and Lyft drivers are required to touch the phone within 15 seconds from receiving a new ride or they miss the opportunit­y, regardless of their driving conditions? Inpris tech would help these and other taxi drivers all over the world to control their phone and accept rides without touching their phones.

Inpris was founded by Nissan Yaron and Ben-Etzion Yaron.

Nissan, a major in the reserves in Israeli intelligen­ce with technology expertise, graduated from the leading Israeli film school: the Sam Spiegel Film and television school in Jerusalem.

Ben-Etzion, Nissan’s father, was a hi-tech veteran who was the head of the computeriz­ed human resources department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was granted patents and awards for his work.

During work on a documentar­y film that Nissan was making about his father’s life story, he told him his idea. What happened next is that Ben-Etzion left his job at the university, and Nissan left filmmaking. They decided to establish Inpris to bring the idea of controllin­g touch screens without looking at thm into reality. Nissan is the CEO and Ben-Etzion is the CTO.

Inpris has raised approximat­ely $2 million from angel investors from New York and California as well as from several Israeli angels. The company won a EU Horizon 2020 grant and a $400,000 grant from the Israel Innovation Authority. A new funding round is currently underway with an eye to support the company’s global expansion and additional R&D.

Inpris also won a first-place award at Ford Motors’ “Make it Drivable” competitio­n. Inpris was also a finalist at the Paris Motor Show start-ups contest and won an industry award for “Most User-Friendly Human-Machine Interface Feature” at the CAR-HMI Berlin industry convention.

There are currently a few thousand private drivers in Israel who have purchased the system are using it intensivel­y. Inpris has initial distributi­on agreements in the EU, pilots in Mexico and Japan, and it is preparing for its US launch while increasing its traction from leading players.

We all know how dangerous texting and driving is. The question is: Is there a way to solve this problem without telling drivers not to access their phones, making them disconnect­ed for the remainder of the ride? Inpris believes there is, and they are hyper-focused on building it.

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