The Bazz app is premised on the assumption that many people can’t overcome the temptation to drive and text despite knowing it’s dangerous.
Once you’ve installed the app on your Android device, it activates automatically when you start driving and turns off when you stop. You can connect it by Bluetooth and choose the volume and reading speed.
The name of the sender is read out loud and you hear text, voice or WhatsApp messages in any language simultaneously. Then, using one of six short voice commands in English or Spanish, you can opt to send a prewritten text message, call the sender, record and send a voice message, or not respond at all.
That last option helps protect privacy, if you’d prefer that your passengers don’t hear a particular message.
Bazz is also useful for people with vision impairment, enabling them to hear text and voice messages and respond without typing.
The parent company is E.Soof, founded in 2013 by Eli Polak, a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces.
Bazz has won prizes in startup competitions and was one of three finalists in the Creative Lifestyle category in the Asia Smartphone Apps Contest 2016 in Hong Kong last June.
The free app is now being tested by the Israel Police motorcycle unit and has been downloaded 50,000 times. Polak tells ISRAEL21c that most users are Israeli because the company has not yet invested in marketing the app overseas. The four-employee startup in the Galilee is self-funded but is now seeking investments and partnerships.
Polak says Bazz offers a unique solution.
“There are many options you can use to block text messages while driving but everybody today wants to be online at all times and I think technology should offer a solution and not a block,” he says.
As for virtual assistants like Alexa and Cortana, they have several drawbacks that Bazz overcomes, such as reading in only one language and difficulty understanding English spoken with a foreign accent. “Because of that I decided we would do simple voice commands so the accent does not matter,” says Polak.
Meanwhile, E.Soof is developing a premium product of interest to insurance companies and companies with fleets, focused on increasing driver efficiency and productivity and reducing damages caused by road accidents.
“We are speaking with a few potential partners that already have solutions for automotive or fleet-management issues,” says Polak, “because there isn’t another solution like ours in the market.”
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