Virginia Company Unveils Text-Detection Device

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

From the commonwealth where radar detectors are verboten, and speeding has more in common with sex crimes than physical graffiti, a local company has developed a device that can detect the sort of signals a phone might emit when its owner is texting.

The Virginian-Pilot reports ComSonics of Harrisonburg, Va. has tweaked technology used by cable repairmen to find damaged wiring to detect transmission data from a phone sending a text. The device, as explained by calibration services manager Malcolm McIntyre, can differentiate between texting, phone calls and data transmissions by frequency.

Though the text-detecting device is “close to production,” according to McIntyre, privacy concerns, legislative red tape, and adoption by law enforcement are likely to slow down progress for now.

Virginia commonwealth law states phone calls by drivers are legal, while texting is illegal. Should the device enter into the fight, however, enforcement of the law may become more muddied, since anyone in a given vehicle could be sending texts; the device likely will not be able to nail down the exact position of the transmission.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • -Nate -Nate on Sep 22, 2014

    @ CoastieLenn : You're trying to reason with / explain things to emotional children who are liars to boot . The carnage caused is clear , there are no honest stats showing otherwise , the irresponsible children do not want to follow Societal Rules nor accept any responsibility for their childish actions . Agreed , Cops often mis use their authority but since we all get away with minor infractions daily , why while like babies when we get the pinch eventually ? . -Nate

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    • -Nate -Nate on Sep 22, 2014

      @CoastieLenn Of _course_ I am ; I'm an Elderly Conservative who pays attention to the facts and History , not what the few who want to steal from us all try to feed us..... FWIW , I was once an ignorant will full child too but therein lies the difference between ignorant and stupid : Ignorance , you can still learn and change . Stupid cannot be fixed . -Nate

  • Dtremit Dtremit on Sep 22, 2014

    The technical explanation of this thing strikes me as complete BS. Text messages *exist* because they fill up unused space in the frequency bands the tower and the phone use to communicate status information. (Ever notice those weird noises your speakers make when your phone is sitting next to them, even though you're not on a call?) And distinguishing between voice and data is about to become impossible; Verizon just became the first carrier to start carrying voice conversations over data frequencies (VoLTE). Moreover, how would you ever distinguish between driver and passenger devices, or between driver-initiated and background data transmissions?

    • Japanese Buick Japanese Buick on Sep 22, 2014

      Yes, this is total BS orginating from a PR puff piece about local company in a Virginia paper. It's been amusing watching this make the click-bait rounds, I'm actually kind of disappointed that TTAC fell for it. This will never see the light of day. There is no business case to spend $millions developing a device that will be obsolete the day it ships. As others have pointed out iMessage, WhatsApp, etc would not be detectable as texts by this device. And the article vaguely refers to "legislative red tape" being a problem but gives no further information. "legislative red tape" means it's an illegal device.

  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Sep 22, 2014

    speeding has more in common with sex crimes than physical graffiti (???)

  • Jacob_coulter Jacob_coulter on Sep 22, 2014

    I'm not going to defend texting when driving, but to me these seems to be all about new revenue streams. It will also be one of those automatic "I get too pull anyone over I want" devices that the cop will swear up and down told him the driver was texting, thus he needed to search the driver, the phone, and the rest of the car to make sure there wasn't another phone that was being hidden, etc. I'd rather be driving on the roads with people that text rather than cops using electronic surveillance on people's phones.

    • CoastieLenn CoastieLenn on Sep 23, 2014

      The probable cause/consent for search laws will still apply just as they do for the smell of drugs. Plus, a phone being hidden? Really?! An officer isn't going to be searching someone's ass for a hidden phone for texting while driving.