After purchasing the Tiwi, parents can sign into a special Web-based dashboard account that allows them to customize several settings. Here they can choose how they receive certain alerts. There are three ways the Tiwi can communicate with them -- by phone, text message or e-mail. Parents can either communicate with their child by one of the three previous methods or they have the option to communicate through the Tiwi itself. If parents don't want their offspring distracted by a phone call or a text message that might take his or her eyes off the road, there's a built-in cell phone inside the Tiwi that lets parent and child talk hands-free.
And if watching the speed limit wasn't enough, the Tiwi can also notify parents when a teen enters or leaves specific areas. This is called "geofencing," and parents can set up a virtual fence around places like the neighborhood or the school the teen attends -- a delinquent student intent on skipping class for the day, for instance, might have a harder time getting away with cutting class if the Tiwi sends parents a message the moment the car heads somewhere other than the campus.
Along with GPS technology to monitor location and speed, the Tiwi also has an accelerometer inside, which can measure dangerous driving activities like aggressive turning and hard acceleration and braking. Accelerometers are electronic devices that use pendulums to measure movement and changes in direction. Slam on the brakes, and the pendulum will swing forward -- if that swing is too drastic, the Tiwi will alert parents. Since safety is the main focus of the Tiwi, the system can also be used for emergency alerts in the event of an accident.
The Tiwi System isn't just found on the dashboards of teens' vehicles -- it actually got its start in NASCAR, a sport where speeding is encouraged. After NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt's death in 2001, Inthinc (under the name Independent Witness) developed a number of "black boxes" that recorded crash data, and eventually Tiwi systems began popping up on the dashboards of NASCAR race cars. Along with crash data, the computers also record lap times and counts for the races.
For lots more information on the Tiwi and other auto-related content, see the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "Teen drivers: fact sheet." July 18, 2008. (Jan. 5, 2009) http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/teenmvh.htm
- Tiwi. "Tiwi." (Jan. 5, 2009) http://www.tiwi.com/downloads/tiwi_fact_sheet.pdf
- Wilson, Kevin. "Coach in a box: electronic unit mentors young drivers." Autoweek. Sept. 8, 2008. (Jan. 5, 2009) http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080911/FREE/809049961/1506