About a year ago, Cory Hohs was riding his motorcycle through the streets of Chicago when he almost collided with a speeding ambulance on its way to a call.
It’s a grim thought, but accidents and crashes involving emergency response vehicles aren’t exactly unheard of.
But that doesn’t mean they’re unpreventable.
“I thought this tech already existed,” Hohs said, whose close encounter led him to founding Haas, a fledgling Internet of Things company that wants to leverage acoustic technology to help make the roads a little safer.
“[Crashes with emergency vehicles] are a big problem,” Hohs said. “A lot of people are injured or killed, and it also costs a lot of money to municipalities and insurance companies.”
Enter Haas, whose IoT tech wants to make it easier for drivers to notice emergency vehicles. When their device’s microphone picks up a sound that matches the acoustic signature of an emergency vehicle siren, it will trigger an automatic alert that’s sent over bluetooth or to a paired device in order to alert drivers of a nearby emergency vehicle.
“Whether you're riding a motorcycle or bicycle or driving a car, we can use our audio technology to listen and determine if an emergency vehicle is coming, and then send you an alert to make sure you have extra time to maneuver around them,” he said.
The company, which launched in April and this year participated in Techweek’s LAUNCH competition in both Detroit and Chicago, has recently traveled to Grand Rapids, MI, for a 12-week accelerator program called Seamless, which caters its resources toward budding IoT startups.
The three-person team is currently building out use cases to prove the need for a product like Haas on the market. Hohs said they’ve raised a small seed round and were also rewarded $20,000 for participation in the accelerator.
“Our main focus right now is to make both emergency services, personnel, and civilians safer to help avoid accidents and incidents that occur on the road,” Hohs said.
“But we’re also trying to explore what you can do with autonomous driving: What are other things that we can listen for that will help your car be smarter so it can enter into an autonomous driving world?”