Bobbleheads – either you love them, or you hate them. Allstate is hoping you love them because, according to a patent search, the personal lines insurance company was granted a patent for a virtual bobblehead for your car.
Yes, bobbleheads are going high-tech! Created as part of its Drivewise® driver feedback program, Allstate is hoping its policyholders use the invention to encourage safe driving.
According to a company spokesperson, the patent demonstrates Allstate’s commitment to innovation for consumers and exploring ways to promote driving safety using the rapidly changing automotive technology.
Here’s how the virtual animated bobblehead is designed to work:
- Policyholders enroll in Allstate’s driver feedback program.
- Enrollees download an app so the insurer can monitor their driving. In return for the company monitoring drivers’ behavior, policyholders receive a discount on the cost of their auto insurance.
- Participants choose an image for their virtual bobblehead. Drivers can upload their own photo, or choose from Allstate’s avatar library. Those with good driving behavior can unlock additional avatars, such as superheroes, sports heroes, cartoon figures, and movie stars.
- The virtual bobblehead responds to certain driving behaviors.
- The avatar can be seen on a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard.
To encourage program participation and engagement with the bobblehead on social media, the Northbrook, Illinois, based company designed the virtual doll with phrases that comment on the driving of the driver.
For example, if the driver breaks hard, the sound of a cracked windshield will be heard and the bobblehead exclaims, “Ahhh, my nose.” Speeding will cause the figurine’s head to snap back and it will say, “Whoa! In a hurry!”
If there’s quick acceleration, the avatar’s head will spin, while hard braking will display a splint on the avatar’s nose. If the driver takes a corner too quickly, the virtual bobblehead will tip over and exclaim, “I’ve fallen and can’t get up!”
Non-related driving expressions are also incorporated into the program. For instance, if the car is stationary for five seconds or more and there is music playing, the avatar will begin moving to the beat.
After a certain number of miles driven in one outing, the bobblehead avatar will cross its legs as if it has to go to the bathroom and proclaim, “Are we there yet?”
The avatar is shareable on social media, with the capability of posting its image on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Allstate also is considering a special website containing a leaderboard displaying driving achievements.
Allstate created the virtual bobblehead to take advantage of the technology that is allowing cars to be connected to all sorts of data.
The patent search indicates that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted the virtual animated bobblehead patent on November 3, 2015.
It’s just the latest patent filing by the Illinois insurer geared toward analyzing and monitoring driving behaviors. Other patent applications include: driving trip and pattern analysis, driving analysis using vehicle-to-vehicle communication, traffic-based driving analysis, and encouraging safe driving using a remote vehicle starter.
It is not known whether Allstate will license its virtual avatar technology to other insurance companies or if other insurers will develop their own methods for monitoring the driving performance of their policyholders.