Hugh Pickens writes writes "Scientific American reports that while laws prohibit texting while driving in many states, many people still find it impossible to resist. Now researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are studying how software on a cell phone could analyze keystrokes to determine when that phone’s user is distracted while composing and sending text messages and combined with GPS and other data, determine when a texter is behind the wheel and shut off texting functions automatically. Such a feature could take the form of a mobile app for any phone—independent of the manufacturer, operating system and wireless service provider. The researchers programmed a cell phone to log keystroke dynamics using a common operating system as a means of determining if an individual was texting while driving, in particular, “keystroke entropy,” (pdf) when keys are struck at irregular intervals, as an indicator that the test subjects’ attention is divided between texting and driving. “The things that we are measuring, the data never needs to leave the person’s phone,” says Mike Watkins, developer of the algorithm. “But as a parent, you could require your child to have something like this on their cellphone as a way to protect them. Employers could use it as a way to mitigate their liability for accidents on work time. Even insurance companies could use it.”"