SafeDrive App: Saving lives with technology

Imagine a car that cares of you when you feel unwell. A car that stops when you lose control. A car that calls for help, a car that makes sure the ambulance is coming when you need it and makes sure your close relatives are informed about it.

Imagine this car. It would be more than a car. You would see him as friend, the kind of friend you can count on, the kind of friend that will always be there for you. If you feel picturing this was fun, you keep on dreaming, because with the simulated Mercedes-Benz developer platform within the Digital Challenge, the only limit is your imagination.

Speaking of imagination, that’s what we do. We’re iabsis, a Swiss tech company that transforms dreams into features. When we heard about the Mercedes-Benz Digital Challenge we were very excited. We signed up straight away looking at all the great possibilities this simulated platform would allow – opening the car from your app, sharing the car with your friends, tracking its location remotely, checking the driver’s fatigue and this to cite only a few… And everything in real time, fingertip ready from an app!!

After testing a few options, designing different use case scenarios to see if it would be interesting, brainstorming as to what we wanted to achieve, we knew we wanted something with real utility. Asking ourselves what is really important when driving a car, we remembered the story of this car that is also a friend taking care of you and making you feel safe, which would also match perfectly to Mercedes-Benz as it is one of the key value what Mercedes-Benz stands for.

A life-saving idea

With an ageing population, issues such as fatigue or dizziness and illnesses like strokes or heart attacks will become more likely to occur on our streets. So we planned to tackle on the holy grail of technology enthusiasts: Changing the world by saving lives with technology. We started “SafeDrive”, an app that accesses the on-board infotainment system of an E-Class.

It constantly checks if the driver is able to control the car. If the systems notices the driver’s well-being is compromised, it performs several automatisms to enhance the driver’s safety. First of all, using voice, light and display text alerts, it tries to restore the driver’s attention and checks his ability to express himself verbally. After that, it takes several safety measures such as stopping the car, opening the doors and turning on the emergency flashers. At the same time – if necessary – it alerts emergency services by sending car and driver data such as information on location and health status. As a last step, the app provides the car’s infotainment system with health information to be shown up on the displays of the dashboard.

While other systems focus either on fatigue or accidents, we widened the scope of our application, including more factors such as strokes or heart attacks. We did this by mixing accident detection, monitoring driver fatigue, driver’s heart rate, and his ability to reply specific tasks and commands – SafeDrive was born.

A challenging challenge

The car as a platform – this was the guiding theme of the Mercedes-Benz Digital Challenge. To develop new and innovative use cases, Mercedes-Benz set up a simulated developer platform providing a car emulator, more than 80 mock application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs). In other words, Mercedes-Benz made it possible to develop car-to-x applications using a virtual concept car with multiple APIs.

With those possibilities and prizes in total worth € 30K, the challenge attracted a lot of attention, even worldwide. Actually, with 2231 registered users, 501 projects, and 88 submissions, it was a huge competition.

With our original idea in mind – enabling vehicles to perform life-saving aid in case of an emergency – we started realizing our project by going through all the trends the automotive industry currently sees and the tutorials, documentations and SDKs. We realized that the possibilities were unlimited. There was great room for innovation.

So we challenged our developers who checked the feasibility of our idea. As the project was requiring multiple competencies, we at iabsis worked together with voice bot and IP telephony specialists from our sister company, Choobs Ltd. After several months of non-stop development, we finally submitted our project for review. And luckily, our project turned out to be among the top 15!

So we headed to Stuttgart for the award ceremony. At the Mercedes-Benz Museum everything was prepared for an awesome ceremony: fine food and old timers in a great atmosphere. And of course: tech talks. At the ceremony, we had the great opportunity to listen to inspiring remarks of Dr. Klaudia Hergula, Head of the Digital Transformation Office of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Sabine Scheunert, Vice President Digital & IT Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales, and John Karp, Co-Founder BeMyApp & Director of Operations.

We also got the chance to meet the other finalists and to pitch in front of them. It was great to see what everyone created and an honor to be on stage alongside so many great ideas and projects. Luckily, Wilko A. Stark – Vice President Daimler Strategy, MBC Product Strategy and Planning, Head of CASE/EVA, awarded the first prize to our project. We were completely overwhelmed. We could not be happier.

A terrific team

Being awarded the first prize we still can’t believe that we made it. The thing we are most proud of is our team. Like all of our projects, the whole challenge was a great team effort. At iabsis, we are an international team with creators, developers, and managers from all over the world. We are from Bangladesh, from Greece, Italy, Ukraine, France, and Nepal. We don’t care about places, we care about talents. Our team currents is made up of seven people, each member with his own speciality (one for example on confidentiality and security, others on hosting the app). As our company works on several projects at once, credits to our team that worked very hard for this achievement.

We had great fun developing on the Mercedes-Benz platform and we only can highly recommend everyone to take part in such challenges by Mercedes-Benz, as well. Plus, we highly recommend developer teams to connect on the Mercedes-Benz developer platform as this is the platform with the real APIs, that was launched at Web Summit in Lisbon just some days ago.

For our project, our award is just the beginning of another next step. Now we can push it further, we can put more resources in it. And hopefully realise it some day.

We are pretty sure that our project is something like nothing before. It has real utility in terms of benefits and life savings: the ideal project for idealistic people like us. If just one person’s life would be saved by our app, it would be just mind-blowing. This is the beginning of something great.

Crafting unique solutions, self-taught developer and entrepreneur Tobias Kuster is contributing to disrupt the worldwide market of multinational corporations in the field of communication technologies. He is co-founder of the Swiss based Mercedes-Benz Digital Challenge winner Iabsis SARL and the company Choobs Ltd.