Taskin Padir, a professor of engineering at Northeastern University, says it’s perfectly predictable that monitoring systems have grown along with kids and parents.

“As we become a more connected world, we use more and more technologies — in our hands, in our pockets, in our vehicles,” Padir says.

In fact, he says, monitoring technology dovetails with the development of the automotive industry’s major recent initiative — self-driving cars.

“Fully autonomous vehicles are not here yet, but the early features are in vehicles — like collision detection, following distance or lane tracking,” he says. “These also double as ways to make teen driving safer.”

These days, no family monitoring technology is as pervasive — or, as teenagers might see it, invasive — as the smartphone-based Life360, which currently has more than 25 million active users across the globe. The app, which launched in 2008, integrates what you might call “perpetual check-in” features, enabling parents to check on a teen’s driving speed in real time and get detailed reports on any high-speed or hard-braking events.

Northeastern’s Padir is an expert twice over on these matters. As co-director of the RIVeR Lab (Robotics and Intelligent Vehicles Research Laboratory), Padir is well-versed in emerging vehicular technology. More importantly, perhaps, he’s a dad with a 17-year-old driver in the house.

Padir and his family have been using the Life360 service for more than a year. “Now we have these new ways to check in,” he says. “It’s a better experience for both the parents and the teenagers.”


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