Why State Farm Wants to Track Your Every Behind-the-Wheel Move

The insurer is working toward technologies that could track your body's every move. Here is how that could actually benefit you.

Why State Farm Wants to Track Your Every Behind-the-Wheel Move Photo (cc) by paulhami

Major insurance companies like Progressive already offer technology that can track your car’s every move.

Now State Farm — the nation’s largest insurer — is working toward technologies that could track your body’s every move, CBS News reports:

In four patent applications State Farm [has filed] with the U.S. Patent Office, the Midwestern insurer describes how it could make you sit up straight; keep your eyes on the road; plant your hands firmly on the wheel rather than your cellphone; and, perhaps most important, avoid road rage.

Anger-sensing monitors would help avoid road rage by turning on soft music, releasing pleasant scents or changing the temperature in the car, for example.

Additionally, optical sensors would monitor eye movement and blinking, biometric sensors would record sweating and heart rate, and a microphone would record voice modulation.

“So shouting at other drivers or even cursing to yourself if you are cut off could count against you,” CBS explains.

For consumers’ pocketbooks, such technologies can work both ways. Insurers may raise premiums for drivers who do not accept such technology or who drive poorly while being monitored, just as they may lower premiums to encourage drivers who accept such technology.

State Farm’s patent applications that were published this week have titles such as:

A patent’s publication date refers to when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office makes a patent application publicly available. The office generally keeps patent applications confidential for 18 months.

State Farm spokesperson Rachael Risinger says in the CBS report that the insurer is innovating to meet the evolving needs of its customers:

“As part of this process, it’s important that the company protect its ideas through patent application filings. … Because of the nature of our innovation work and patent program, we are unable to provide further comments at this time.”

What’s your take on technology like this — is it creepy or exciting? Share your thoughts in comments below or on Facebook.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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