Cogosense Blog

Cogosense's Driver Behaviour Blog

Introduction to Cogosense Part 2

Introduction to Cogosense Part 2

Introducing Cogosense Part 1 of this blog described the initial idea of Aegis, and how due to small thing called the iPhone, we got left in the dust as carriers rushed to shore up their networks. Part 2 will be dedicated to the calm and calculated pivot that Aegis executed.

First our CEO resigned. He was my cofounder, and is still a good friend, so no names will be used here. The consequences of this action would make a great case study on how not to handle an investment in a tech company. Suffice it to say a cofounder will treat an investor's money as if it was his own. Founder and Angel Investor interests are usually completely aligned. In the best interests of the company we should have stuck a paper bag on his head and propped him up in the corner till he calmed down.

We did carry on, the solution was modified to remove the carrier integration and an "over-the-top" solution was developed. Instead of intercepting voice, text and data media streams in the network (where they should be intercepted), we wrote software to intercept them on the handset after they had been delivered. The FleetSafer app was born. This worked very well on Android, and not so well on that iPhone device that had already caused us so much grief. Well that's ok we thought, 80% of the market is Android, we just need an iOS solution that is good enough. What we discovered was, the 20% of iPhones were in the hands of the decision makers. Literally at one logistics company we lost a deal for 5000 truck mounted Android tablets because the CEO had an iPhone and we couldn't prevent his device ringing.

This led to a lot of pressure to solve the problem, which led to the abyss of "private APIs". Anyone familiar with iOS will know that Apple only condones the usage of published documented APIs, but with a bit of digging you can find a wealth of undocumented functionality. By the time iOS 5 was released in 2011, we could make iOS match Android feature for feature. The problem was in iOS 6 Apple commenced waging a war against illicit usage of its devices. It seemed a funny concept back then, not being able to use a device you owned as you saw fit, but Apple doubled down with each subsequent iOS release. The amount of money poured into staying ahead of the game became more than Aegis could bear. In February 2015 the company shutdown, the investors cut their losses. I don't blame them, but I think a paper bag could have saved them a lot of money.

A dedicated team of ex employees kept the services going for the Aegis customers. Freed of the burden of executive salaries, leaseholds and server farms, we reduced monthly expenditures 10 fold, we migrated everything to the cloud and automated all key tasks. By June just 5 of us were keeping the lights on. The decision was made to found Cogosense in September, and negotiations started with Aegis to acquire the technology. By Christmas we had a deal.

From this whole experience I discovered it is extremely hard to execute a pivot when you lose half your vision. Over the years of Aegis it became clear Distracted Driving is just not enough to justify a standalone product, but the idealogical inertia had set in at senior levels and we couldn't shake the self image we had created of being a "Distracted Driving" company. The two of us had it right in the beginning, it is a "call forward on drive" feature. I always wonder what would have happened if we had applied the paper bag, kept calm and carried on.

In part 3, I will talk about Cogosense: what we do and what we did with FleetSafer.

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Introducing Cogosense Part 1

Introducing Cogosense Part 1

Cogosense Technology was founded in late 2015, it was the successor to Aegis Mobility Inc. that was founded in 2007. Our goal was to develop software to combat the growing problem of mobile phones causing distracted driving.

My background is mobile phone infrastructure, so naturally my first idea was that this was a problem that should be solved in the core network. Your carrier knows you are moving and should just be able to handle the calls and texts on your behalf (it was a much simpler world back in 2007), By the end of 2007 Aegis Mobility had developed the world's first "call forward on driving" feature. If you were driving you calls were forwarded to voicemail, or another number of your choice and texts were queued in the network until your journey was completed. We were rightfully very proud of our accomplishment and off we trotted to the carriers armed with our PowerPoints and a demonstration running on Blackberry devices (remember them, they used to be King).

We had a mixed reception from the carriers, mostly the reaction was "What! You are going to stop the phone from ringing? We don't want that, our customers don't want that". Even if it could save their life and the lives of those around them? we asked. We persisted and eventually we found one midwest based carrier that cared about human life more than profit. They allowed us to test the solution on their network, and guess what it worked!! Yes, back in 2007 Aegis Mobility successfully demonstrated "call forward on driving" in a live carrier network.

So why in 2020 can't you activate Call Forwarding on Drive? Technology overtook us in a matter of months. Remember Blackberry? The iPhone was launched in June 2007, data became king, carriers were struggling to keep up with demand for data bandwidth. Their networks were creaking under the load. All their resources were directed to add capacity. Any projects that did not add capacity, or had a potential to destabilise the network were canned.

As a company we had to abandon a $9M investment and pivot to something else. 

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3rd Annual Distracted Driving Survey: Results Now Available!

Employers continue to be concerned about the risk and liability posed by employee use of mobile devices while driving on the job.  In fact, seven in ten companies have adopted written policies designed to curb employee distracted driving, but only 32% are confident that current enforcement methods are effective at achieving compliance.

These are among the new findings from our Third Annual Enterprise Distracted Driving Survey of 547 fleet safety and risk management professionals.  Other key findings include:

  • “Hands-Free” and “Zero Tolerance” are most popular policies. 45% of existing employer policies prohibit all use, except hands-free.  41% prohibit all use, no exceptions. 12% prohibit texting emailing and browsing.
  • Efforts to enforce distracted driving policies remain steady. 86% of companies report taking some steps to enforce distracted driving policies. 
  • Confidence is lacking in current policy enforcement. Confidence in current enforcement efforts is limited. Only 32% report they are “very confident” that current methods are effective. 60% are “somewhat confident”, while 8% are “not confident”.
  • Interest in policy technology continues to grow.  22% of companies plan to evaluate either device-based software, device analytics or in-vehicle cameras within the next twelve months to better enforce compliance with distracted driving policies.
  • Android™ and iPhone® smartphones are fast growing, while Blackberry and Push-to-Talk (PTT) phones are hanging in.  Android™ and iPhone® continue to grow rapidly and now represent 61% of corporate-liable smartphone devices. BlackBerrys have decreased, but remain prominent with 30% market share and appear to have good prospects to maintain share based on customer interest in the new BlackBerry 10 devices.
  • The tablet wave is coming to commercial fleet vehicles. A full 27% of respondents currently equip employee drivers with some form of tablet computer. Of those, 73% are iPads and 27% are Android.  Prospects for continued growth appear strong as 8% of total respondents indicate plans to deploy tablets to employee drivers within the next 12 months.

To download the full survey analysis, please visit: https://info.aegismobility.com/2013-distracted-driving-survey-results/

ABOUT THE SURVEY

These findings are based on an online survey of 547 fleet safety and risk management professionals across a variety of industries in North America.  It is the third year in a row the survey has been conducted.  Responses were taken over 3 weeks from March 20 until April 10, 2013.  The margin of error for the full sample is ± 5.0 percentage points.

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The problem of "Do as I say, not as I do".

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released its fifth annual "Traffic Safety Culture Index" this month and the messages related to distracted driving due to mobile device use are clear:

  • Nearly all drivers (95.7%) say that drivers text messaging or emailing are a very serious threat to their personal safety
  • 94.5 percent say that they personally consider it unacceptable for a driver to type a text or email while driving
  • 79.8 percent believe that most other people where they live consider it unacceptable to text while driving

However, contrasted against this near-universal belief that texting or emailing while driving is extremely dangerous:

  • More than 1 in four (26.6%) say that they have typed or sent a text message or email in the past 30 days while driving
  • More than 1 in three (34.7%) say they have read a text message or email while driving during this time

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This "do as I say, not as I do" paradigm is one of the reasons that the problem of distracted driving is difficult to solve through education and law enforcement alone. The statistics prove that, although people understand the dangers and face penalties, they continue the behaviours.

At Aegis, we share the objectives of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to value and pursue traffic safety. We are committed to helping reduce the estimated 8,000 deaths on American highways in 2011 due to mobile device use.

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Three Reasons Why Companies Are Weaning Employees Off Mobile Devices

Resolutions to change behavior and live healthier lives are common at this time of year. And according to a story in today's New York Times, employers are getting in on the act by adopting policies aimed at weaning employees off mobile devices.

Huh?

I thought mobile productivity was good for business? I thought smart phones and tablets exponentially increased worker productivity? So why on earth would companies want to moderate employee use of mobile devices?

Here's three reasons why:

  1. A recently released study conducted by Daimler, found that "switching-off" after work is critical to being a balanced and productive employee.
  2. A separate study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that while mobile phones were valued as a way to stay productive, there were significant downsides to being tethered to your work at all times.
  3. Evidence shows that companies face significant liability stemming from employee use of mobile devices while driving.

Despite the fact that some forward-thinking companies are beginning to understand the need to balance mobile productivity with employee health and corporate risk concerns; many others still expect employees to answer the phone or respond to the email at any hour of the day under any circumstances, even while driving.

So where does corporate America go from here, you ask?

The answer isn't 100% clear, but Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T. and author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other,” offers a glimpse into the future.  Ms. Turkle predicts that more and more companies will simply ask the question, "how do we help our employees make healthy choices with regard to use of mobile devices in the context of work?"

Healthy Choices

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