Could a Virtual Bobblehead Make You a Safer Driver?

Bobblehead dolls have proven to be popular collectibles at sporting events and even find their way onto car dashboards. So why not create a virtual version in a driver feedback program?

Allstate [has] received a patent for a virtual animated bobblehead that cracks a windshield after hard braking occurs, utters phrases like "Ahhh, my nose," and is shareable on social media.

It's the Northbrook-based company's most recent patent in a world in which cars are increasingly connected and in which the property and casualty insurance industry is encouraging policyholders to sign up for programs that let them monitor driving through devices or smartphone apps in exchange for discounts.

The bobblehead's likeness, which can be seen on a smartphone, tablet or other devices mounted on or in the vehicle dashboard, might come from a personal photo the driver uploads. Policyholders can also visit a bobblehead "avatar library," the patent says, when their "driving behavior improves" and pick from among sports heroes, movie stars, superheroes and cartoon figures.

Rapid acceleration might cause the bobblehead avatar's head to spin. Speeding might cause its noggin to snap back, triggering an audible "Whoa! In a hurry?" A nose splint may appear on the avatar when hard braking occurs. Fast cornering might cause the bobblehead to fall or tip over or might elicit an "I've fallen and can't get up!"

When the vehicle has traveled more than a preset number of miles, the bobblehead might cross its legs, look like it has to use the bathroom, and utter "Are we there yet?"

When the car is stationary for at least 5 seconds, the bobblehead might move to any music that's playing.

When a bobblehead image is posted to Facebook, Twitter or another social media site, it might also be simultaneously posted to a special website where a leaderboard for driving achievements may be...

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