New 'Textalyzer' Tech Aims to Combat Distracted Driving

By Prei Dy, | May 15, 2017

A new software allows police to detect if a phone had been used behind wheels while protecting the user’s privacy.  (YouTube)

A new software allows police to detect if a phone had been used behind wheels while protecting the user’s privacy. (YouTube)

A new technology called "textalyzer," developed by Israel-based mobile forensics firm Cellebrite, aims to help law enforcement unlock mobile devices to solve crimes.

The software allows police officers to detect if a phone had been used behind wheels while protecting the user's privacy. Using the software, officers could connect a person's phone to their laptop or other devices and check only the operating system logs, which could provide information if the touchscreen was used or if someone was typing at the time of an accident.

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"You'll notice there's no user content displayed whatsoever. No phone numbers, no content of texts, no images," Mo Cook from Cellebrite said. "We're specifically designing to protect the privacy of the user," Jim Grady, Cellebrite Inc. Americas CEO, said. "So it's particularly important not to say who you were texting or what you said in those texts, but instead just the evidence that you were texting and specifically, things like... the way you hit the keyboard and the frequency."

However, legal experts doubt the textalyzer's credibility as an evidence in court, especially if there is more than one person in the car.

"If there is only one driver it's not an issue, but if there are many people in the car, who used the phone will be a critical issue," Harold Kent, dean of Kent School of Law, said, adding that police already has subpoena power to take a phone found at an accident scene to find out if it was used or not at the time of an accident.

Fatal accidents due to texting while driving are increasing in the US. And police officials are hoping that this could pressure phone companies to devise their technology to address the issue.

"Something needs to give and we've been trying to work with the industry... to create an app or something to shut the phone off from texting if you are moving at a certain speed," Ald. Anthony Beale of the Chicago Police Department said.

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