Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Free app captures drunk drivers

Frank Vahid, a computer science professor in the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside (UCR; Riverside, CA, USA) has created a new smart-phone app to help eradicate problems caused by drunk drivers.

The professor developed the app after realizing that while the police always ask individuals for the license plate of vehicles potentially being driven by drunks, it's not always easy for them to provide such details. And that's where the new smart phone app comes into its own.

After downloading the free Android and iPhone app called DuiCam, all a driver needs to do is mount their smart-phone on the dashboard of their car. Once fired up, the app will then enable the smart-phone to constantly record what is happening in front of the car, while deleting footage after 30 minutes so the memory on the smart-phone isn't overwhelmed.

If app users see what looks like a drunk driver, they can then replay the video and zoom in to look at the license plate and other identifying marks on the offending car which they can pass on to the police. The app even makes it possible to email a snapshot or the entire video to help investigators get the driver off the road.

Five years ago, the technology for such an app wasn't widely available, but now virtually every cell phone has a good quality camera, and many people already have mounts for their dashboards or windshields, so they can easily use the camera feature on their smart-phone.

Professor Vahid and UCR computer science majors Timothy Cherney and Daniel de Haas -- the students who programmed the new DuiCam app -- are now adding more features, such as automatic license plate recognition.

I think that there is a lot of potential in this idea. Imagine, for example, that future versions of the app could automatically categorize (with reasonable accuracy, of course!) the sort of driving behavior that is deemed to be representative of a drunk driver and then automatically send the license plate number it captures and identifies to the nearest police vehicle!

That would truly make those folks who are still foolish enough to drive after having imbibed a few cocktails to think twice before getting in their vehicles.

If you like the professor's idea and would like to help sponsor further development, you can email him at, and/or give directly at the UCR donation page.

Information on the app is available at Readers can download the iPhone version here and the Android version here.

Related items from Vision Systems Design.

1. Vision system helps curb drunken drivers

Drunk driving may soon become a thing of the past thanks to a face-recognition program developed by a pair of University of Windsor (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) engineering graduate students.

2. Thermal imaging software detects drunks

Greek researchers have developed software to analyze images from thermal imaging cameras to objectively determine whether a person has consumed an excessive amount of alcohol.

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