European Business: You advertise that Etergo makes driving safer with a touchscreen embedded into your scooter’s front console eliminating the incentive for drivers to check their phone while steering through traffic. Isn’t the distraction of receiving messages on a screen in front of you just as dangerous, though – and doesn’t this step only move the problem?
Bart Jacobsz-Rosier: In the last four years, traffic fatalities increased by 8% per year after they had been steadily declining for the past four decades. The number one cause for traffic accidents worldwide is now smartphone usage while driving. Apple and Google have conducted a lot of research into these problems. They came up with solutions specifically for cars like Android Auto and Apple Carplay, and they created guidelines for safe driving interfaces, which minimize the amount of distraction their devices cause while maximizing the utility the user still gets out of them.
We believe, however, that for scooters, an embedded screen in front of the driver is a much better solution than a hand-held device. Needless to say, we don’t want our drivers to touch the screen while driving and we don’t want them to be distracted either when they should keep their eyes on the road. This is why all our apps are very glance-able and designed to allow drivers to see as much information as quickly as possible. Say, you’re approaching a cross section and you need to know whether you have to go left or right: You have to be able to access that information in a split second. Our solution allows you to do that.
As speeds increase, you can limit the amount of notifications shown to you. In any event, you won’t be able to scroll through pictures or get full access to Facebook while you’re actually driving. You can only access the things you really need, which pop us as a message, upon which you can press ‘Record’ and the device will read the message to you out loud, so you don’t have to avert your eyes from traffic for a second longer than absolutely necessary.
European Business: You boast that your AppScooter has a larger range than scooters which rely on petrol. Thus, you seem to have solved one of the biggest obstacles to electric vehicles: range anxiety. How did you do it?
Bart Jacobsz-Rosier: We looked at petrol scooters and some of the more recent versions of electric ones and we saw that a lot of electric scooters had been designed by simply swapping the petrol engine for an electric one and then putting the batteries in some place where space remained. We did the complete opposite: We started with two wheels and then re-designed everything from scratch, which made things a bit more time-consuming than we’d thought.
A lot of electric scooters had been designed by simply swapping the petrol engine for an electric one and then putting the batteries in some place where space remained. We did the complete opposite. Bart Jacobsz-Rosier
European Business: That sounds like an enormous undertaking – not re-inventing the wheel, but essentially re-inventing everything else. What gave you the stamina to follow through with this ambition?
Bart Jacobsz-Rosier: Whenever I buy a new product, I want it to feel like a normal extension of my life. I want it to feel fluent, to feel like it’s been thought through to the last letter. I really hate it when I buy a product and some of the experience is just not as smooth as it could be, that some button is in the wrong place or a fabric is slightly off. That’s a waste of opportunity for a happy customer, because you’ve fallen short of creating something unique and inspiring. That inspiration is crucial for the overall transition to renewable energy, though, which needs to be realized as quickly and as completely as possible.