iPhone App Lets You Tell Drivers Exactly What You Think of Them

By Jennifer Welsh | September 16, 2010 1:33 pm

Who needs to drive with two phones?A new smart phone app aims to get you communicating with the drivers around you, and we don’t mean yelling choice obscenities through the window or shaking your fist of rage when someone cuts you off.

By photographing, typing, or saying a license plate number and state you’ll be able to message the driver–if they’re also signed up for the service, named Bump. The message recipient can choose how they get their messages, through text or the Bump.com website. Bump launches today on iPhones, and an Android app will soon be ready as well.

Venture Beat talked to Bump’s CEO, Mitch Thrower about the idea:

Thrower says his social network for cars brings to mind a classic scene in the film American Graffiti…. Actor Richard Dreyfuss sees a beautiful blonde played by Suzanne Somers in a white T-Bird. She blows a kiss at him. He tries to follow her but can’t catch up. Maddeningly, he never sees her again. Oh, if he had only gotten her license plate.

And while the idea of giving drivers more reasons to constantly be on their phones gives most of us the willies, Bump’s developers say using their application could encourage a safer diving experience overall, bringing personal accountability to the road–a normally anonymous place. As fun as scolding bad drivers sounds the service can also be used to warn other drivers about low tires, broken tail-lights, car alarms, or headlights left on. Or, of course, we could turn traffic jams into the new singles scene.

The company is touting the app as some sort of social network for drivers, but it also has a data-mining trick up their sleeve. Bump wants to offer up its users as targets for advertising, by selling businesses the ability to contact people who frequently drive by their establishments.

Bump’s VP of technology, John Albers-Mead, explained the idea to Technology Review:

“It allows us to track users, it’s like putting a cookie on a car,” says Albers-Mead, likening his technology to the small files used to track web users and offer functionality like autologins online. Once connected up to Bump’s tech, a camera at a store or drive-in burger joint could, for example, showing menu choices similar to those you’ve selected before. That extra data could be valuable to store owners, Bump say, who could also make use of the messaging functions. “You could register as a fan of the Dodgers and then receive a message welcoming you to the stadium and offering discount vouchers when you visit,” says Albers-Mead.

Related content:
Discoblog: AD4HERE: Digital License Plate Ads May Come to California
Discoblog: Texting-While-Driving Coach Slightly Delays Appalling Crashes
Discoblog: Woman Receives First Ever PhD in Texting
Discoblog: NASA iPhone App Lets You Drive a Lunar Rover (Just Try Not to Get Stuck)
80beats: Sorry, Australian iPhone Users: You’ve Been Rickrolled

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Ed Poor

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!, Top Posts
  • Janus

    Great!!! Just what the rest of us need, ANOTHER way for reckless drivers to not pay attention to driving!

  • http://facebook.com/JANSone JANSone

    whats the beta code to join?

  • http://www.faildriver.com VelcroMonkey

    This may make sense for drivers hitting on other drivers, but when I am frustrated with drivers I use the ‘Fail Driver’ iPhone application

  • http://www.bump.com Mitch Thrower

    A few quick updates from the product team at BUMP.com * our smart phone apps disable texting when driving (so voice only), *we are creating a safety network for drivers to know when their car got towed, and to also report bad driving, (or good driving) or to send messages safely via voice.

    We are also launching a consumer safety connection to amber alerts, earthquake, traffic alerts, free towing, and weather alerts in the system. We are working with a leading expert on road rage to develop product features that diffuse road tension, and prevent accidents. In our next release, we have a profanity filter, a speak-and-listen system, among many other safety features. Of course, a user can opt to “un-list” their plate and not receive any messages. Our nationwide phone number launches in October, where you can simply leave messages for any car, so it is, indeed, an 800-how-am-i-driving for the entire country – it uses speech recognition and is hands free. Its a sort of Crowdsourcing for safety and marketing (users can choose to receive offers based on where they go).

    Its also important to note, that this is happening very fast. We’re just one of the companies in the space, and perhaps the first one you heard of – there are close to 20 other companies currently doing license plate messaging across the country – check them out, as well. (if you don’t want to dig, email me and I will send you a list). At BUMP.com however, we want to be the company to do this the right way, the safe way (we are the only one of the 20 companies implementing these safety features).

    I sincerely want to listen and address our users concerns and change the product in every way possible to make it safe. Please, send me feedback directly to me about how to make our product offering more safe for our users, I will respond to you personally. Thanks again! mitch.thrower@bump-network.com

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    – Mitch Thrower, Founder, BUMP.com
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7TfCLW_qI4 (video from backstage interview at DEMO with more info)

  • http://backreaction.blogspot.com/ Bee

    You know what the world really needs: LCD licence plates (inevitably coming) that you can occasionally send a message to for the guy behind you. Like: Get off my back, or, Stop picking your nose. You get it. The great thing about it is that it gives natural selection a totally new playground. Think of all the dumbasses who’ll lose their lives programming their plates!

  • Connie

    Check out this awesome video by BUMP.com:


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YK74OBRSJEWLULBZDPMQLJYI7E Kimberly

    Wow! what an idea) but anyway the safety is more important
    Thanks for the nice article | m4a to
    mp3 http://m4atomp3converter.org/, Kim


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