Everything can change in a split second. Car crashes kill over 30,000 people a year in America, and Splitsecnd launched today to bring that number down.
Splitsecnd is a crash detection and emergency response system. It works through a small piece of hardware that plugs into a car’s cigarette lighter. In the event of a collision, Splitsecnd automatically calls for help.
“The idea is to make it really easy to get the help you need in the event of an accident and reduce the amount of time it takes for emergency to get there,” said CEO and founder Chris Thompson in an interview with VentureBeat. “People want to make sure their grandparents, kids, and spouses have something that connects them immediately to help. An phone app is not a good solution. Built-in solutions are only available in luxury cars, and our closest competitor is OnStar, which requires professional installation. All you have to do with Splitsecnd is plug it in.”
If a serious accident occurs, a driver (or their passengers) may not be able to call for help themselves. Splitsecnd uploads the car’s location to a cellular data network and notifies a response center. Someone at the response center will assess the situation and deploy a local 911 team if necessary. The device also has a backup battery charger so it can function even if it’s expelled from the car. The team spent time doing crash tests at the University of Michigan, simulating the worst case scenario to see how Splitsecnd help up. Thompson said that the collisions made a lot of noise, but they could still hear the device making the call.
On-road safety is not only about collisions, however. During early market research for the product, Thompson discovered that most people wanted to buy Splitsecnd for someone else.
“We found that people want to buy this for people they care about,” Thompson said. “Husbands want to buy it for their wives, and wives want to buy it for their husbands. My grandparents are pretty good drivers, but they don’t really use cell phones. My grandfather had three heart attacks. If he had heart attack in the car, he can push the ‘help’ button and be connected. Splitscnd is able to take over when you may not be able to.”
The Family Finder feature monitors the safety of your loved ones in real time. This is useful for senior citizens, who may be prone to getting lost, but particularly for the parents of teenagers who want to know where their kids are.
Thompson said that shaving just a minute off response time could reduce morbidity and mortality of auto accidents by 6 percent. Furthermore, there is a wealth of possibilities in the realm of connected cars. The “Internet of Things,” and particularly of cars, are hot topics right now in the tech world. Startups and international corporations alike are taking interest in this area. Earlier this year, Cisco and NXP announced a strategic investment in Cohda Wireless, which builds hardware to make cars smarter. Intel Capital formed the Connected Car Fund a year ago, dedicating $100 million toward technology that connects cars to the web.
Splitsecnd, however, is not geared toward people who interested in hi-tech. The startup’s mission is to make heightened automobile safety accessible to people without smartphones or GPS systems, who aren’t driving luxury cars, and who may not be the most tech savvy. Thompson said the company will start with online sales only, but the plan is to grow into more traditional retail outlets, big box stores, and car dealerships. The device costs $199, with a $14.99 a month fee.
To fuel this growth, Nashville-based Splitsecnd raised $2.1 million from Tennessee Community Ventures, the INCITE co-investment fund, the Jumpstart Foundry, and a private investor.
For now, Splitsecnd is focuses on emergency response. However, the realm of machine-to-machine communication is wide and there are plenty of applications down-the-road.
Photo Credit: JasonParis/Flickr
Like this story? Want to learn more? On April 14-15, our fourth annual VentureBeat Mobile Summit will tackle the eight biggest growth opportunities in mobile today. The invitation-only Summit will gather the top 180 executives at the scenic Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, Calif., to discuss issues like this. Request an invitation.