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In-car texting is a serious problem, one so big that AT&T dedicated an entire hackathon contest to defeating it.
Coming out on top was Rode Dog, a canine-themed app that aims to take a bite out the increasingly prevalent danger.
The way the app works is simple: Whenever a user attempts to text while driving, friends and family (known as “the pack”) can send a cacophony of barks to stop drivers in their tracks.
The idea for Rode Dog came from Victoria Walker, an 11-year old who developed the app alongside designer David Grau. Together, the team won $20,000, which they plan to use to further develop the app.
Alex Donn, senior marketing manager for AT&T, told VentureBeat that Rode Dog got the crown because it found a simple yet effective way to pressure drivers into putting away their phones.
“What stuck out about the app for us was its focus on the immediate family, the people closest to you,” Donn said, noting that he found this strategy to be more effective than solutions based on larger social networks.
“These kinds of pressures are much more relevant and useful for people,” he said.
The other big pull? It’s entertaining, a feature that Donn says is essential to get people to keep using it.
We also can’t ignore Rode Dog’s ingenious monetization strategy. With The Pet Store, users of the app can purchase different barks, and, one day, sounds from entirely new animals.
So could we one day see Rode Dog as a default app on AT&T’s phones? “Absolutely,” Donn said.