The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

In DriveMODE

New company GlassCUBE, made up of six students from the University of Moratuwa, has launched an app for a stress-free road trip

A team of six students from the University of Moratuwa (UOM) have developed an exciting new app that allows drivers to answers phone calls – without taking a hand off the wheel.

The app, designed for Android phones, has been christened DriveMODE and was developed by the local team who’ve named their fledgling company GlassCUBE. They were guided by professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of the MIT AITI program designed to create start-ups and promote entrepreneurship in the region. “The six of us decided to give it a shot,” Samith Wimalana told the Mirror Magazine. “We all had the faint idea of starting our own company one day and we thought, hey this is the ultimate opportunity.”

When they first began looking around for ideas, they came up with one that appealed to them all: “The fact that people answer calls while driving, and in the process of answering the phone in one hand, they lose focus and control and create a huge risk; was something which we all could relate to having witnessed t happening not just in movies but in personal life with friends and relations as well,” he says.

Samith introduces the team that went to work on the problem. In Anuruddha Premalal, Tharindu Adikari and Sachith Jayawarna, they had three excellent coders who led the development of the technical aspects of the software. Anuruddha and Sachith are Google map makers, IEEE extreme coding competition top rankers and Tharindu, who topped the island in the A/L math stream in 2008, was a key part of the strong team. Ashan Shanaka, who enjoys working with photoshop and video production, was a shoo-in for VP of Marketing while Sacheera Fernando had experience in previous start-ups and is also the outgoing secretary of the Rotaract club of UOM.
The app they created applied all their different skills to develop an android based offline mobile application which would allow drivers to use voice commands to answer or reject incoming calls.

The application announces who is calling and if the driver responds with a “yes”, it would accept the call and switch the phone onto loudspeaker. If the answer was “no” the app simply rejects the call.

Members of GlassCUBE. Pix by Indika Handuwala

Once they actually got down to working on their app, they realised that one of the main challenges would be creating offline voice recognition. “Even advanced applications such as Apples Siri and Samsung Vlingo require an internet connection on the mobile phone to do voice recognition,” says Samith. “We wanted to build an offline application so then you don’t need to be connected to the internet to use the application and to make sure the functioning is superfast and smooth.” They are pleased to have trumped the problem.

Their app will be competing with Bluetooth headsets, wired hands-free technology and the like, but these they’re convinced the latter will lose out because they’re both expensive, inconvenient to use and in the case of Bluetooth, it presents a potential health hazard.

DriveMODE will be sold on the widely accessible Google Play. After a 30 day free trial version, users will have to purchase the “pro-version” for $1 to continue using the product.

“Our target market is a whopping 4 million, if we just manage a 5% market penetration.” They have also been in touch with the Sri Lankan police about getting the official stamp of approval for their product. “We plan to make this a globally accepted, globally available application,” says Samith. “Our vision is a safer driving experience for drivers all around the world.”

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