We’ve all heard the car alarms blaring with owners out of earshot and oblivious. What about the car with lights left on? If there was a way to contact the owner, quickly and easily, would you use it? An idea man from Regina thinks there’s a place for it, and he came up with Chimo, an ersatz social network based on license plate numbers. With nothing more than that, people with the Chimo car connection app installed on a smartphone can text each other knowing nothing more than the other person’s licence plate number.
Walking the Dog
Saul Segall was out walking his dog, Chimo, when he spotted a car with its interior lights blazing. Pondering a way to notify the owner before the car battery ran down, Segall hit upon the idea of using licence plates as a way for drivers to voluntarily connect. In its early stages, Segall is still hoping that the app catches on. While that may take a while, Segall has been contacted by people around the world to learn more about the car connection app.
Road Rage Enhancer?
As with any other social media, Chimo may attract its share of abusers. However, blocking an abusive Chimo user is easy. The only information that’s shared is the licence plate number, which anyone driving near you could know. Chimo may even act as a passive-aggressive conduit for road rage, preventing more dangerous impulsive behaviour.
Using the Car Connection App
Once a motorist installs the app, he can choose how he wants to be contacted. Licence plate format isn’t fixed, so the app works with vehicles anywhere in the world. User profiles can also be customized, so multiple licence plates can be entered and then selected when a user changes vehicles.
The app does limit contact only to those who sign up and use it. Until you’ve entered your licence into the app, no one can contact you through Chimo. Segall is looking for a way to market to apartment and condominium buildings as a way of enforcing parking etiquette.
Plans are in the works to distribute Chimo decals to registered users so that, if they wish, they can broadcast that they are using the app.
The uses for Chimo will likely expand based on an enthusiastic user base, if it develops. Imagine a network of Chimo users watching for your stolen car, alongside underfunded police departments. How about using Chimo to contact the owner of a car with a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window? No need to scribble down a phone number on the fly.
Time will tell if this made-in-Canada solution will catch on.