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Nexar, turning your smartphone into a dash cam with crowdsourced smarts

Mark Gibbs | July 4, 2016
What do you get when you combine video from a car with sensor data, Big Data, and artificial intelligence? Road intelligence.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

I've tested a few dash cams in the last year (for example the Swann DriveEyeand the Papago GOSAFE 520) and I've been impressed. Even if you're not planning to capture the next meteor screaming over your town and shattering windows for miles around, it's a great hedge against fraudulent insurance claims against you and terrific documentation for any road travel incidents you might have. But as with all technology, while there's a lot of value in point application, when the point data is aggregated and treated as Big Data, amazing opportunities and insights emerge ... which is exactly what comes from turning your iPhone into an ultra-sophisticated dash cam with the Nexar app.

Nexar records video from your iPhone's cameras and integrates that with data from the phone's sensors to capture license plates, other cars' behavior, sudden braking, and collisions. But wait! There's more! This data is then aggregated with the data from other drivers, scanned by computer vision software, assessed by AI algorithms, and out the other end of this sausage maker comes information on which drivers run red lights, who exceeds the speed limit, and, in the near future, if you're running Nexar, it'll warn you when you're near a bad driver.

The developers are Israeli and they beta tested their app in Tel Aviv, a city they describe as "The City That Never Stops (on Red)" in August 2015. The test used 20 drivers and:

After watching and analyzing 60,000 kilometers of driving, 3,000 total hours, and 11 hours of "incident" footage, we were blown away by the results. With those 20 drivers and only a month's worth of time, our alpha testers reported hundreds of "incidents" - dangerous traffic violations. Concretely, we recorded more than 43 drivers of all types - public buses, taxis, scooters, and private cars - blatantly running red lights, 114 cars dangerously cutting into lanes, dozens of cars driving recklessly, and even 6 accidents.

Clearly, our roads are a mess - an undocumented mess.

Until now.

Here's a map of the collected data:

nexar2

As well as identifying bad drivers, the aggregated and crunched data will identify dangerous intersections and roads, unexpected hazard areas, as well as producing real time, actionable data on accidents and road problems. 

Since then the company has moved to collecting data in SanFrancisco (100,000 miles per week for four months featuring over 800 drivers running red lights). On the Nexar blog they show an accident they captured in the test which illustrates the level of detail involved in reconstructing the event:

 

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