Now, social network website for drivers

The site, Bump.com, even allows drivers to access discounts to local stores based on the locations where they are driving.

“It is kind of like a Groupon and a Foursquare, meets AAA and LoJack—all of which you can’t turn off,” ABC News quoted Mitch Thrower, Bump.com’s  founder and CEO, as saying.

The company is powered by a program that scans and automatically recognises licence plate numbers in pictures taken by security cameras on the road.

It then matches up those numbers with e-mail accounts, mobile phones and location systems to let people communicate.

Thrower said for two years, Bump.com has been in “stealth” mode, building up the technology behind the company and assigning e-mail addresses and voicemail boxes to licence plates across the country.

At the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, the company officially launched, on an open invitation basis.

To join, you can register on the company’s website for an invitation to “claim your plate”. After receiving the invitation, users can go to Bump.com to verify car ownership and set up a profile. But even if you don’t want to be a part of a social network for the streets, Bump will capture images of your licence plate and assign it an identity.

Registration

Other drivers will be able to send messages to your car, but you only receive those text and voice messages if you sign up for the network and register yourself as the licence plate owner.

“Your licence plate is basically a public document, a public record, and it ties back to a communication need,” Thrower said.

“Everyone’s thought, at some point, ‘Hey, I would like to talk to this person. I would like to send this person a message’,” he stated.

Bump.com not only lets drivers communicate, a chance to exchange both gripes and Good Samaritan messages, it can also let parents track their children and companies and taxi companies monitor their fleets. Thrower is also working with towing companies on a system that would alert drivers when their cars are towed. Instead of calling the police department to track down your towed car, the towing company would just send you an e-mail or voicemail.

Bump.com will also offer drivers an AAA-type membership programme that gives drivers discounts and promotions based on their locations for a $49 annual fee.

Thrower emphasised that the company automatically defaults to the most private settings, won’t turn over information to insurance companies and filters out obscenity-laced road rage messages. But in cases of child abductions and other public safety situations, he said, Bump.com technology can help law enforcement track down criminals.

“The Good Samaritan piece is a big one for us. We want to make the roads safer,” he added.

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