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ABQ teen’s app helps prevent texting and driving

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COURTESY OF NIALLS CHAVEZ Nialls Chavez, left, and Rhythm Badal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque teen’s concept for developing an app that keeps people from calling or texting while driving has garnered national exposure and is ready for marketing.

Bosque School sophomore Rhythm Badal, 16, came up with the idea when she was learning to drive and realized the risks of using her phone while on the road, said her mother, Heather Badal. She brought in University of New Mexico computer science graduate student Nialls Chavez to develop the app.

The result was Drive Control, which enables a driver to hold calls and texts while driving to avoid the risk of crashing, and to retrieve them when he or she is done driving. It can also allow a parent or employer to monitor a phone to make sure the driver isn’t calling or texting while driving.

The three showcased Drive Control in March at the HD3 Millenial Innovation@Intel event for local innovators, where organizer Michelle Miller suggested they apply for a Small Business Administration award.

They were among 15 finalists, picked from 100 competitors around the country, to pitch their product to a panel of experts at the SBA’s InnovateHER Business Challenge in Washington, D.C.

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The competition was for entrepreneurs who develop products and services that enhance the lives of women and their families, fill a need in the marketplace and have potential for commercialization.

On Friday, Rhythm Badal, Heather Badal and Chavez were in the nation’s capital vying to be one of the top three product developers who would share $30,000 in prize money sponsored by Microsoft.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but it was a great experience and we’re going to keep going,” said Heather Badal.

They hope to make the app commercially available within six weeks and will market it to families, driving schools and small businesses. She said several businesses, including Pella Windows and Doors, High Desert Roofing and Crystal Springs Bottled Water, are testing Drive Control.

Until then, the product is available as “drivecontrol,” a free download from the Android store and will soon be available from the Apple iTunes store, Chavez said. He said there are some similar apps on the market, but Drive Control has the flexibility to work on both Android and iPhones.


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