Use of mobile phones while driving is a big problem on Irish roads. Too many people still drive while on their phone to take a call, text, snap a selfie, update their social media channels or check an email. Even glancing at a phone when it lights up is a distraction. As part of Toyota’s brand promise ‘Built for a Better World’ they developed the Toyota Face It Down app with the aim of changing driver behaviour and improving road safety for everyone. In partnership with the Road Safety Authority, FBD Insurance and Circle K, Toyota are rewarding drivers for putting their phone face down when driving. Drivers can redeem the points they earned for their journey in the form of a €50 reduction on their car insurance with FBD Insurance or a complimentary hot drink at Circle K stores nationwide. The app is available to all drivers, not just Toyota owners. The initial design of the Toyota FaceItDown app was brought to us by an advertising agency who designed the app on behalf of Toyota.
The Toyota FaceItDown app started off as a cross platform app using React Native. React Native presented some challenges with development that we needed to work around. One of the key issues was sensor and location data. The app uses a number of different physical sensors to determine if the device is facing up or down. It then rewards the user with points for each kilometre completed without interacting with their phone.This was a challenge for pure React Native. It meant we had to implement some native code on both Android and iOS to fulfil these requirements. Also, both Android and iOS maintain individual style guidelines. Android's material design is largely based on the physical world, with views having elevations and cast shadows. The iOS human interface guidelines lean towards flat design. Both give each platform a distinct but familiar user experience. Although the user interface code is shared, we used native code for platform specific styling. The system has a server side element that we brought in-house. The FaceItDown API is a service that processes requests sent by the mobile applications and the administration dashboard. It is a Node.js service that uses RethinkDB for data storage and retrieval. The administration is a React web app. The app has had over 50k downloads in a 12 month period, with over nine million distraction free journeys carried out so far. FaceItDown has received a lot of coverage in the media including RTE, RSA, Irish Mirror, Independent and Marketing Magazine.