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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.

Using Nexar, [the driver] had a video of the accident that he could share immediately. But he also had a full and accurate reconstruction of the accident, millisecond by millisecond. In fact, our accident report also included the projected impact on the car, and force exerted on Reggie, so that he could prove exactly what impact the car and him suffered. Think of all of the times you heard of or were involved in disputes concerning an accident. We want to make that a thing of the past.

They continue:

But we're not stopping there. As we want to prevent accidents in the first place, we will soon be introducing smart warnings, in an effort to reduce the probability of accidents. We want to warn you before you get into dangerous intersections. We want to alert you when approaching potholes, especially by night, or in the rain. We want to make you aware of a car braking hard five cars ahead of you, so that you can change lane with enough time, and avoid a potential chain accident. We want to warn you when you drive next to a car that has been seen driving recklessly in the past.

nexar drive

A fantastic aspect of Nexar's technology is that it also provides very accurate geolocation. According to an IEEE Spectrum article:

The accelerometer senses potholes and speed bumps, while the magnetometer (used for compass settings) detects when the car is [traveling] under power lines. "We use these, refreshed fifty times a second, to crowdsource features of the road and pinpoint where you are to within 2 meters," says [Eran Shir, Nexar's co-founder]. A side benefit is that the company has built detailed maps of road surface quality in its pilot cities.

The app is cleverly engineered; when there's an accident or just hard braking, or when you tap on the iPhone display or say "Hey Nexar", Nexar creates an incident that's automatically uploaded and stored in the cloud as a time lapsed video that's only available to you.

You can also use a two-finger tap on the screen to change to recording the backwards-facing view and capture both video and audio from inside the vehicle. The latest version also integrates with the very popular driving app,Waze, and an Android version is promised.

Apart from its value to consumers, Nexar will also potentially provide the government and law enforcement with an incredibly cost-effective source of Homeland Security intelligence and crime-fighting data. On the negative side, there are potentially serious privacy and legal issues involved with tracking cars by their plates and making their owners' (bad) driving habits public.


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