Startup offers telematics minus 'Big Brother approach'

Tech is also designed for super-quick integration

Startup offers telematics minus 'Big Brother approach'


By Mark Hollmer

Driver Technologies, Inc. offers telematics with a twist, minus what CEO and co-founder Rashid Galadanci (pictured) described as a “Big Brother-type hardware approach.”

“Traditionally a lot of telematics or camera-type products have been purchased by the insurance company at great expense for the fleet owner, or pushed out to the consumer or driver,” Galadanci explained. “We have taken the opposite perspective, which is maybe the world would be a better place if there wasn’t such a ‘Big Brother’ type of hardware approach.”

Instead, Driver Technologies’ core tech is in an app and is designed to be downloaded on a smartphone. The device is then mounted in the vehicle. Users can opt in to share the data with insurers or, if a fleet driver, with employers. Insurers also pitch the technology to drivers in return for discounts or other benefits.

The New York-based technology company launched in 2018, with 30 full-time employees and between 10 and 15 part-time contractors now on staff fueling further growth. Venture investors are interested, too. The company has raised a $10 million Series A investment led by IA Capital, with participation from Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures, State AutoLabs/Rev 1, The Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund, C2Ventures and Kapur Capital.

That investment helped, in part, to fuel Driver Technologies’ recent launch of DriverPremium, a deluxe version of its Driver app that turns a driver’s phone into a dash cam and mobile driving assistance system. It gives real-time safety alerts in areas including forward collision, driver drowsiness and distraction warnings, as well as coaching to help promote good driving habits. The premium version, available on both the Apple and Android app stores, starts at $4.99 per month for consumers, the company said.

Galadanci confirmed that Driver Technologies is “talking to a number of strategic investors” in terms of new financing but said there is no set deadline.

About a third of Driver Technologies’ business is from consumers, a third commercial drivers and a third from the sharing economy. Of that total, 25% are brought to the company directly by insurers, Galadanci said.

Two-part technology

Galadanci refers to Driver Technologies as an “AI-driven mobility and safety company,” with two components. One is the mobile app that turns a personal device into a dashcam and provides safety alerts and various telematics data. On the back end, it has the “driver cloud,” where consumers can share incidents they capture with their app, or fleet managers can view and share incidents they observe in their fleets.

Both parties can choose to share the data with insurance companies, which either tap into the telematics for underwriting or the video component for claims.

The core technology is “contextual telematics,” Galadanci explained.

“We get traditional telematics as well as much more high-definition accelerometer and gyroscope type data at 30 hertz,” he said, “instead of the one-hertz location data of traditional telematics.”

Driver Technologies’ video and computer vision capabilities lets the company look at added things such as drivers blowing stop signs or stop lights, drowsy and distracted driving, tailgating and more.

“We can coach drivers in real time. It doesn’t necessarily have to go up to the fleet manager or insurance,” Galadanci said. “You can have a better driver without passing on that information, but it’s also really easy to show you are a good driver … “

After they download the app, users mount their phone on a dash mount. There is an outside facing camera that captures video outside the vehicle, but there is also an inside camera if a rideshare driver, for example, wants to capture in the vehicle. Driver Technologies also tracks location and accelerometer data to help users show police, a boss or an insurance company that they were driving properly in an accident, for example.

Cutting-edge computer vision and motion data helps Driver Technologies track pedestrians, motorcycles, buses, trucks, different animals and more. The app can also monitor driver head position for drowsiness and distraction and then issue an alert. Motion data helps predict the likelihood that certain behaviors could cause an accident, Galadanci said.

Zero technical integration

Insurers or brokers that want to integrate with Driver Technologies contact the company to use the app as a tool for their clients. They might use it to offer a discount on driver insurance premium, or to be able to see video for claims purposes, Galadanci said.

According to Galadanci, the company can set up the program overnight.

“The most exciting thing for an agent or an insurance company working with us is there actually is zero technical integration,” Galadanci said. “We can sign you up today with a fleet, or with a consumer end user. We create a landing page for them where they automatically connect to your organization and can start getting promised benefits for signing up.”

Driver Technologies is also doing larger integrations with companies such as Verisk, which requires connection through a URL to the company’s driver cloud.

“It’s the internal logistics of getting through a deal with them [that can take longer], but the technical integration, that’s very fast,” Galadanci said.

Driver Technologies’ founders developed its tech with the awareness of longer integration processes with other software. Integrations, Galadanci said, should move rapidly because technology is changing ever faster.

“One of the challenges with technology is that it’s changing rapidly,” Galadanci said. “By the time someone has gone into a full hardware/internal software integration [that takes longer], something better is already up.”

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