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An app to avoid red lights joins in-car wireless and coffee

Posting in Energy

Could an app help you avoid those pesky red lights -- and should it be authorized?

Dashboard apps, in-car entertainment, wireless connectivity and more -- cars are becoming less like ways to move from A to B and more like mobile extensions of your home. We seem to only be missing a coffee maker (oh, wait..), and yet the rules of the road dictate eyes must be in-front at all times.

So if a handy app on your dashboard helped you avoid the ever-frustrating red lights on the road, wouldn't your eyes slide a little then and again?

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently lifted the lid on a new app that helps drivers avoid red lights -- apparently to reduce fuel consumption, but far more likely to raise a smile and pressure on that accelerator.

The app is called SignalGuru, according to Reuters. The software predicts when a traffic light is about to change. So you can avoid the glaring red flash to stop, the app predicts what speed you need to drive in order to cruise through a junction without needing to break the journey.

Information on the traffic lights is crowdsourced from other users of the app, which is then sent back to the servers to improve accuracy. The scientists say that crowdsourcing is needed because information from traffic authorities isn't always solid or available digitally.

Testing the system in Singapore and Cambridge, the team say that the app resulted in a 20 percent decrease in fuel consumption -- however the former was less consistent as traffic lights depend on the flow of traffic.

However, if traffic signals are not pre-timed or a failure takes place, this could result in safety issues, let alone potential changes in driver behavior -- ramping up the speed to try and avoid sitting in traffic.

Emmanouil Koukoumidis, the scientist behind the app, said that the system could be used for other data-capture, including available parking spaces or real-time gas prices.

(via Reuters)

Image credit: SignalGuru

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— By on September 16, 2012, 9:10 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure