18
Oct
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As a parent, I'm terrified at the thought of my kids driving. We're still at least seven years away from that, but it's still something I think about almost daily. It's becoming all too common to hear horror stories of how someone lost of loved one due to things like using email, texting, or other cell phone usage while driving. I'm hoping there's a better solution than we have now before my babies get behind the wheel, but for those who are going through that very thing right now, Scosche has a solution. Not just any solution, either - one that should actually work.

It's called CellControl ($129 - Scosche, Amazon), and it's a small device that attaches to the vehicle's OBD (on-board diagnostics) port. All vehicles manufactured after 1996 have this port, so if your car was made in the last couple of decades, it'll work.

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It's actually really simple little gadget: after cracking open the package, you activate it on Scosche's website, connect it to the car's OBD port, and then install/launch the companion app. The rest is pretty much seamless.

Note that the order in which you do the above is important. If the app is launched before the device is installed, it won't work (it didn't for me at least).

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During the activation process, you have to create an account with Scosche, which includes setting up a username and password, verifying an administrator email address, and entering the phone number for the device that CellControl should monitor. From there, everything is on autopilot: CellControl will block the use of everything aside from the phone app, locally stored music, and Navigation. In order to gain more control and further specify allowed apps, get support for additional handsets, and info about bad driving habits, you'll have to shell out $5 a month. I think this move is rather shady given the fact that Scosche omits this bit of info from its website and the unit itself already costs a somewhat pricey $129.

Still, the default (free) settings seem to work as advertised. In fact, they work really well.

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Once the device is installed (a stupid-simple process) and the CellControl app is launched, it immediately goes to work - no pairing needed! Heck, you don't even have to enable Bluetooth - the app does it for you. As soon as the vehicle starts moving, the device sends the signal to the smartphone and begins blocking all apps.

So what's to stop your clever teen from disabling Bluetooth? Nothing. Except the app will immediately turn it back on. Not only that, though, it will also send you, the administrator, an email to let you know that Bluetooth was disabled. How cool is that? Within seconds of the "violation," you'll know about it. It also sends a text message to the phone to let the user know that they have "generated a CellControl violation." Kind of superfluous considering the SMS app should be blocked, but they'll see it eventually.

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Screenshot_2012-10-18-14-54-09 Screenshot_2012-10-18-15-47-00 Screenshot_2012-10-18-14-57-24

Of course, there is a way to outsmart the CellControl app, which creates a static notification: kill the app. If your teen is the tinkerin' type, they can jump right into the Settings > Apps menu and simply force stop the app. It won't work again until it's manually started from the app tray.

Overall, I have to say I'm pretty impressed with not only how easy this little gadget is to use, but how well it works. It's not going replace teaching your child good driving habits, but it's definitely a nice way to keep them from doing some of the things they shouldn't be while behind the wheel.

Yes, I did have to play with my phone quite a bit while driving in order to test this device. Thanks for noticing! 

Buy: Scosche, Amazon

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • KevlarGibs

    What prevents you from simply unplugging the OBD2 part? If it's not plugged in, the app never realizes you're driving, right?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Pretty much. But I wouldn't tell the kids about it - I doubt they'd easily figure it out.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        If I am old enough to drive and have a car, I'll have enough brains to figure it out. "Kids" don't really drive - teenagers do, and at that point, they probably know the car in and out.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Ultimately, here's the way I see it: if you can't trust your kids enough to leave it in place if they do find it, then there's still something wrong with the situation.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            No, something is wrong with your FACE. I hate you. /door slam /crying sounds

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

            <3

          • Royal2000H

            Where do you draw the line?

            You can say ... "if you can't trust your kids enough to not text in the car, then there's..."
            Then you can say "if you can't trust your kids enough to not disable the bluetooth, then there's..."

            Seems like just as a kid may want to text, they may disable bluetooth, and they just as easily may want to simply pull out the module.

          • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

            What if you cant trust them to actually drive instead of screwing around on their phone constantly? If you cant trust them to do that then why would you be trusting them to not disable the app that keeps them from doing the thing you dont trust them not to do?

      • Bedammit

        Its probably a better idea to just tell them.
        I put this thing in your car.
        To have the privilege to drive the car.. do not remove it.

        If they are with friends that wont stop them from using another phone...
        Solve the problem.

        Kids speed, run red lights, race and do all sorts of dangerous things.

        Putting them in a large slow vehicle doesnt make them safer.
        Teaching them (early before they drive) to think and be safe is far more useful.
        Then youll have plenty more money to spend on your Nexus devices!

        Nexii for everyone!

      • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

        Any kid old enough to drive a car is old enough to Google, and they would find any review like this and see how easily they could disable the app.

    • mesmorino

      Better yet, rather that force-stopping it, what prevents you from simply uninstalling the app entirely?

      • Bedammit

        Making the app admin on the device.
        ;)

  • spydie

    this is best used if installed "on the sly". Don't let your kids know anything about it. They just won't get texts while driving and they won't be able to send anything. They'll think it's really weird that their phone quits working, then starts working again later. If they start to figure out it only happens when they are in the car and mention it to you, just tell them the Obama administration has blocked that stuff for their protection. They'll believe it. Actually this would be better if the app could be totally hidden or made so it can't be force stopped without administrator password, then they can't mess with it or delete the app entirely.

  • Ádám Zovits

    What about talking with your kids about the dangers of using a phone while driving?
    Maybe throw in some practical demonstrations using a driving game and a phone.

  • Isaiah

    Mmm its super great until they get in a serious car accident and their phone doesn't work. I've been in a car accident middle of nowhere and thankfully my parent's weren't dumb enough to install anything like this in my car. There's no excuse for not teaching responsibility.

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      Exactly. Something like this might actually be illegal because it blocks a users ability to dial 911.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mikecupp Michael Cupp

        If you read the article, it clearly states: "CellControl will block the use of everything aside from the phone app, locally stored music, and Navigation". So yeah you can make phone calls or call 911.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mikecupp Michael Cupp

        "CellControl will block the use of everything aside from the phone app, locally stored music, and Navigation". So yeah, you can make calls.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          So you can't stream from the cloud but you can stream from your local device? I'd hate if my parents put it on my phone back in the day.

          • Chris McInnis

            Artem: How young could you be that your parents still had control over your phone and you had the ability to "stream music" ? lol

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            I don't know, but how young can you be to be able to drive?

      • Blake

        It says right in the article that the phone app can still be used.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mikecupp Michael Cupp

      "CellControl will block the use of everything aside from the phone app, locally stored music, and Navigation"

  • http://www.facebook.com/idan.yael Idan Yael

    If they are in the age of driving they are definitely in the age of force closing the app / disconnecting the device / uninstalling and even blocking it's permissions using 3rd party like LBE or something like that... oh, and they will probably do those things while driving... :

  • Wayne Randall

    Just install Tasker on your kid's phone behind a password, disabling phone radio and SMS when the device is moving faster than 20mph. Done. Saves the OBD port for important things.

  • fixxmyhead

    sorry cameron this one is a bust

  • http://profiles.google.com/kehnin Kehnin Dyer

    all cars should be sold with jacob's ladders. there. now noone can use phones in cars anymore. or near roads... or pretty much anywhere.

  • Ped E. Strian

    The real problem is that it is allowed to use a phone in a car. Doesn't matter if you are an adult or not, it takes too much attention away from the road.

    In many countries in Europe it is illegal to use a phone in a car unless you use a handsfree speakerphone or earplug. Texting and app use is strictly forbidden. You also have to be 18 to drive in most countries.

    • DCMAKER

      they have outlawed phone use while driving in always all states as far as i know. It used to be Chicago and random cities in IL but I think State law has been passed now. I personally could care less if people used them or not....thats why you got car insurance lol. Someone hits me of well its covered

      • Matthew Fry

        That'll help when they hit a child on a crosswalk.

        • DCMAKER

          they have insurance too.....hence why its law that everyone has insurance...sigh use your brain

          • Matthew Fry

            I meant for the child. Use your brain.

          • DCMAKER

            it'll help the parents :P

          • setspeed

            Trying telling the dead child's parents "Don't worry, it's covered - I have insurance."

  • Bedammit

    I'm fairly confident I can do > 50% of this with tasker and a modern car.

    The best way to get kids to not text is to teach trust and ethics.
    as far as kids figuring it out..
    Having an OBD II dongle in their car and an app you are requiring them to have on their mobile device...
    Well of course they will. We're not raising kids that are less tech than we are...
    Are we?!?

  • AzureShadow

    Just as a heads up these things are illegal in the US. The FCC has stated multiple times and many laws and lawsuits have went through the system that have been upheld. Anything that blocks cell signals is simply not allowed because they interfere with emergency services.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      You didn't actually read the review, did you?

      • DCMAKER

        I was going to say the same thing but i read it to be safe...i thought it was a jammer. I was going to be pissed if you guy's reviewed a jammer but at least i was smart enough to read the review first :)

      • Leandros99

        I guess he didn't read it ... or was to stupid to understand. ;P

  • DCMAKER

    guess what be a parent and teach your kids that its bad to text and drive....if they don't listen thats their problem because they are old enough and smart enough to make their own decisions.....do society a favor and let the tards be weeded out. If they are that dumb oh fucking well. People can make their own decisions. When or if i have kids, I will let my kid choose their own path like my parents did and if they die because he/she is retarded that is their problem. I won't shed one tear. I will speak at my kids funeral and say, "Well my kid was stupid....i told them not too and they didn't listen....it was their choice and they choose stupidity nothing I can do. Good day I am going to get lunch."

  • Leandros99

    This only works for, not that smart, kids. ;)
    I guess I would have disabled the app, removed it (even if its "admin") and unplugged the device from the car at the age of 12.

    The idea is pretty good and really important, driving while using your mobile is dangerous, but the implementation is bad.
    Additionally, if you force your "kids" (more teenagers) to not to use the mobile with this method, you have done something wrong.

    Rules are needed for kids, but they don't have to be forced like this, any (including me as kid) would try everything to remove this forced rule (sadly I was always smarter than my parents ... :D)

  • http://twitter.com/MysteryMannnnn Mystery Man

    Yea you just unplug it. No way to secure an obd port...

  • JG

    Fun car & cell story this article made me think of that I feel like sharing (then its off to bed)....

    Way back when, late '90s.... I was driving my sister to pick up one of her friends, then we were going to get something to eat and see a movie. We picked up the friend & I was waiting to pull out of the drive but there was a car approaching. My sister said to just pull out - that they'd stop. "Yeah, when they hit my bumper" I said jokingly. The car passed, I pulled out & we were heading out when we hear my sister's name being called. We looked around, thinking it was a friend calling out, but didn't see anyone. We get to Taco Bell, we're sitting down, eating our food when my dad runs in "are you alright?!?" he asked. We just look at him "um, yeah, why wouldn't we be?".... Turns out, while trying to get out of the friend's driveway, my sister's phone book bag dialed (cousin of the infamous butt dial) our home. Mom answered & heard me say "they hit my bumper". Then when she couldn't get us to answer her she sent dad out hunting for us fearing we had gotten into a serious accident....

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