In last week’s Cork News (Cork’s favourite newspaper) an article on Page 20 caught my eye. It was about TellTail. TellTail is a system whereby someone in a car can send one of 4 preset messages to a car following behind. When the driver presses a littlel fob on the inside of the car, the number plate slides down and a message in red is displayed in its place. TellTail has many applications, not least the transmission of an emergency message to let other road users know that the driver is in trouble. The owner of a stolen car could even remotely trigger the device to let people behind know it was stolen. It’s inventors – a group of Corkmen who are obviously fierce handy altogether – had just won an international prize in Switzerland.
The idea for TellTail’s came to its inventor Michael Fleming when he was watching the film Collateral. In Collateral a cab driver is the hostage of an assassin. The cabbie has to drive the killer around on his ‘assassignments’ and has no way of warning anyone that there’s a murderer on the loose. Which presumably must lead to the king of all “you’ll never guess who I had in the cab other day” taxi-man stories.
So that’s TellTail. A clever product which will bring real benefits to people on the road.
On other hand, I’ve thought of a similar device called RelaxWillYa. Its sole purpose is to send narky messages to drivers who are annoying me. There are many situations for which ‘putting on your hazards’, flashing lights and administering the finger are not sufficiently nuanced.
We all know the scenario. You’re tootling along the road minding your own business when suddenly He’s there, in your rear-view mirror. The Lunatic.
Lunatics are easy to spot. The first characteristic to note is the position they adopt on the road – namely Right Up Your Hole. Every so often they ‘have a look’ which is where they attempt to overtake. Upon realising there’s a herd of cattle on the road up ahead they grumpily pull back in behind you and give you a ‘blamey’ look.
Another glance in your mirror and you’ll confirm your suspicions when you see the number plate. If the writing is stylised and perhaps in BOLD ITALICS you know who’s RUYH. The tension is heightened if the car has a DONEGAL REG. Donegal is the home of The Lunatic. Or it’s a Northern number plate with all their consonants which can make you feel like you’re being sworn at in Polish. From the number plate move your gaze to the windscreen. It’s got a NIKE swoosh on it. Because The Lunatic apparently thinks he’s driving a tracksuit. And then you see the driver himself. There’s one hand one the gear stick so that he can change down at a moment’s notice from 4th gear to Angryth gear. The car is low slung, sullen. The engine is chewing a piece of gum. Somewhere beneath all the spoilers and lights and tyres, there’s a good little Micra who fell in with a bad crowd.
And you want to send a message. That’s where RelaxWillYa™ comes in. Its voice activated controls – we don’t want any penalty points, now do we? – allow you to select a number of preset messages. If you pick Option 1, the following message is displayed in place of your number plate. “Just hang on two minutes until the lollipop lady is finished and you can pass me all you want”. Perhaps you want to be informative, soothing and wise so select option 2 to display this: “Hi, you don’t believe it now but one day you’re going to meet a nice girl, settle down and enjoy the pleasures of 5th gear” More often though you just want to be abusive and option 3 will display “Anyone who expresses themselves through their number plates is a NOB”
There are other applications for RelaxWillYa™. Lunatics are not the only people you need to communicate with on the road. For example, if you let someone out in front of you and that someone doesn’t acknowledge the gesture with a quick click of the hazard lights, you need to do something. Otherwise the apoplectic fury inside you will gradually cause your insides to ulcerate. You can’t flash your lights because they won’t know what you mean, and hazard lights are only meant for people travelling behind so you need to write a message they can read in their mirror. In that scenario RelaxWillYa has a feature called BeInYourBonnet which operates at the front of the car and that will write: in a sarcastic manner.
And who knows, the enterprise may take off, and I will become a very wealthy man in a swanky car. In which case you can drive behind me and send me a friendly message. Something like: