Verizon Wants To Help You Keep Tabs on Your Teens

Location Data, Geofencing Are Latest Features in Carrier's Smart-Car Device

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Hum Product
Hum Product Credit: Verizon

Verizon wants to help you keep tabs on your teenage kids.

The carrier last year introduced Hum, a device that turns older autos into connected cars, with features that, among other things, help people locate their cars or report a stolen vehicle. But now the company is looking to give families and parents of teenage drivers a little peace of mind by adding location-based features thanks to geofencing technology.

The new features will allow people to have real-time monitoring of vehicle location, speed and activity, a move that Michael Maddux, director of product development at Verizon Telematics, said is useful for parents of new teenage drivers and adult children with elderly parents who still drive.

"When we launched Hum last year, the biggest need we wanted to satisfy was to give consumers peace of mind by focusing on offering more safety and security features," said Mr. Maddux. He added that the feedback Verizon had gotten from 30% of Hum's customers was that they wanted additional features like geofencing.

The geofencing feature allows people to set boundary alerts so that if, say, a teen drives a car past a distance set by the parents, the parents are alerted on their mobile devices that the car has crossed the boundary. The new features also allow parents to set speed alerts so that they will be notified on their phones -- either via the app, a SMS message or email -- that the car has accelerated past the speed limit they set.

The features also allow subscribers to the Hum service to see vehicle location and direction, as well as driving history, where users can "key trip-based driving information to track driving efficiency, including duration, start and end times, idle times and max/avg. speeds," according to a statement.

Car-location technology has been advertised recently by automakers, including Hyundai, which aired a Super Bowl ad starring Kevin Hart as a dad who follows his daughter around on a first date thanks to Hyundai's Car Finder feature.

Hum was first announced in August. It's essentially an OnStar-like service for cars that do not offer such a service. It's a small device that reads the car's onboard diagnostic port, and can make nearly any car made after 1996 -- an estimated 150 million cars on the road -- a connected car. People buy the device, which Verizon says is easily installed by consumers, and they then subscribe to the service associated with it and download an app via Google Play or Apple's App Store.

When the product was first rolled out, features included diagnostics, roadside and emergency assistance, as well as consultations with mechanics. It also featured maintenance reminders, parking assistance, incident alerts and emergency assistance and stolen vehicle location assistance.

Verizon has been marketing the product since its launch, but it wasn't immediately clear what the creative would look like moving forward -- although TV, radio, print and digital advertising for the product will continue, said Mr. Maddux.

Verizon Telematics for several years has been offering similar services to auto manufacturers to build into their fleets, including Mercedes and Volkswagen.

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