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Carpool Management Tip: Get Help with Boost by Mercedes-Benz (Giveaway)

Disclosure:  This is a press post. One ride credit was provided to me for review purposes but I also paid for another ride. All of my opinions are my own.

Too busy motherOn TechMamas.com l write about innovative services, apps and websites for parents on TechMamas.com. But just recently as I ramped up my own work,  I realized as a parent with tweens and teens that the main help I needed was driving my kids to and from school/activities after school. I have carpools, but that does not always work because kids go to different activities afterschool. I tried to fit in work during school hours but it seemed like my kids were either always waiting for me to finish something so I could drive them, or waiting to get picked up at times when I was running late from a meeting. Yes, driving my kids around was the one challenge getting in the way of me ramping up my work. So I set off to find a service, website or app that can help me find a solution to my carpool challenges. As would have it, I was lucky enough to see an email from the folks at Boost by Mercedes-Benz on their new innovative transportation service for kids.

 

Boost by Mercedes-Benz

Photo Credit: Boost by Mercedes-Benz

 

Here is the information from Boost by Mercedes-Benz on the story behind their innovative transportation service. The current zip codes covered are in California – Palo Alto (94301, 94302, 94303, 94304, 94305, 94306), Los Altos – 94022, Menlo Park – 94025 and Mountain View – 94043:

 

Story behind Boost By Benz:

Busy schedules and the stress of scheduling for today’s youths seem to be part of the daily family life. Boost by Mercedes-Benz was developed to address that challenge. Boost by Mercedes-Benz (www.boostbybenz.com) is a proof-of-concept business launched by the Business Innovation Team at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development in Sunnyvale. This youth transportation service is designed to transport children safely and reliably to and from the educational and recreational activities that fill their day.

 

 

Knowing how important it is for children to balance school and extracurricular activities, it can be very tough for parents to get their kids from place to place – safely and on time. The goal at Boost is to make parents’ lives easier, while enabling children to participate in more activities. In addition, Boost hopes to minimize the number of vehicles on the road (and in the school driveway) by providing a safe, reliable youth transportation alternative for parents.

One of the goals in Business Innovation is to change the way people think about transportation and with Boost; the team has already seen this shift taking place.

 

 

Technology story behind Boost by Benz:

 

Innovative technology is the backbone of Boost by Mercedes-Benz. We built a seamless system that handles route planning, notifications and updates to allow our Boost Dispatcher, Driver and Concierge to focus on what’s most important, your children.

 

 

We kept a parent’s busy schedule in mind when we built our scheduling and notification system. A simple, three-step process guides you through the one-time, online account setup. Once your family’s info is in our system, simply schedule a ride online by selecting riders, pick-up and drop-off locations, and ideal pick-up and drop-off times. Confirm your child’s ride and you’ll get an email confirmation with the ride reservation details.

 

 

The rest is even easier. We’ve built custom tablet apps for our Boost Team to allow you complete transparency throughout your child’s ride. You’ll be notified via SMS or through our iPhone app 24 hours before the ride notifying you of our arrival time. Then, the day of your child’s ride, we’ll notify you that we’re on our way to pick up your child. When we arrive, we check them in via our technology and you’ll be notified that they’re aboard Boost. If so inclined, you can log in to your account while they’re aboard Boost to get a birds-eye view of their ride. Lastly, we’ll notify you to let you know they’ve safely arrived at their destination.

By blending the ease of technology with the best in transportation, you’ll rest easy knowing your kiddos are safely bound to their next adventure.

 


Overview of Business Innovation:

Business Innovation initiated in 2007 is Daimler’s ‘think tank’ for innovative solutions beyond the core business of car manufacturing. The team deals with future trends and technological, social and cultural developments to create profitable business models. Tested and evaluated on a pilot basis, success stories like car2go and Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy started here as proof- of-concept projects and have subsequently become prosperous businesses. Business Innovation teams are also located at the headquarters in Stuttgart, in Beijing, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Sunnyvale, CA. Business Innovation at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc. started in 2012.

 

 

Boost by Mercedes-Benz

Photo Credit: Boost by Mercedes-Benz

 

 

Details:

To sign up visit https://boostbybenz.com/. The hours currently are Monday through Friday from 12noon to 7:00pm.  The trips are scheduled online but there is also an Boost by Mercedes-Benz iPhone app and they send texts (I have an Android phone so I used the text option). Pricing will depend on the package you get, but for me it was cheaper then hiring a sitter for their minimum amount of hours per day. Instead I was just paying per ride which worked for my kids schedules.  In the van there is a driver (of course) and a Concierge that is in charge of watching over the kids and walking them to their destination from the car.

 

Boost by Mercedes Benz

Photo Credit: Boost by Mercedes Benz

 

 

Above is one of the press photos of the Concierge that rides with the driver. I used Boost to take my boys to an exercise class. The Concierge greeted me for pickup and then at drop-off walked my boys into the facility and to the class instructor per my instructions. The driver waits with the other kids in the van while the Concierge delivers the child being dropped off. In my experience, both the driver and the Concierge were very friendly and my kids enjoyed using the service (which is the most important thing!).

 

 

Now I just need to figure out my schedule in a way that I can plan the rides in advance.  Boost By Benz usually recommends scheduling rides at least 1-2 weeks prior but some time frames may be open if you need to schedule closer to the date needed. Boost also requires 48 hour cancellation to receive a 100% refund.  They will also be running over the summer! In fact, there is a special promo going on now dedicated to summer booking. Parents can use the discount code “SUMMER15” when they register and checkout on boostbybenz.com to receive 15% off rides (expires on April 30th).

 

 

I am thrilled to know that transportation services like Boost by Benz exist to help busy working parents manage carpooling challenges!

 

GIVEAWAY:

 

Please share your family carpooling challenges in the comments and we will randomly choose one comment to win ONE RIDE CREDIT received when they sign up for Boost by Benz.

 

1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)  2. Winners are limited by zip codes valid to Boost by Benz stated above and to US residents only 21 years of age or older. 3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen. 4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. 5. Approximate value of prizes may vary. 6. All decisions are final 7. By entering any giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action. 7. Contest ends May 6 2014 -10am pst. Winner will be announced by May 7 2014.

 

 

 

Disclosure:  This is a press post. One ride credit was provided to me for review purposes but I also paid for another ride. All of my opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Sponsored: Tips For Teaching Kids Not To Text and Drive

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for a campaign with AT&T.

 

 For today’s teens, texting is their natural and persistent form of communication. I realized just how deeply integrated texting is to my older son’s communication when he went to a friend’s birthday party at age 12. The kid’s mom had pre-arranged a great scavenger hunt in the back yard, the excited boys searched for hidden toys in silence, texting each other as they discovered treasure.
I soon realized that I needed to not only teach my teen texting etiquette and safety rules but also role model appropriate technology use. As my son approaches the age of driving I decided that one of the most important places to demonstrate texting safety is in the car. Especially when recent studies show that 75% of teens say texting and driving is “common” among their friends.  Here are some of my tips for texting safety, please share yours!

1. Create A Routine: I create a routine for what I do with my phone in the car and I share it with my teen. For example, there are some days where I hand my phone to my teen and he places it somewhere out of my reach.. I always say “look where my phone is – out of my reach while driving!”. Or there are some days where I turn on the AT&T Drive Mode and show my teen that I have it set so I can’t text until I turn drive mode off. ”When the app is enabled and the vehicle is moving 25 mph, the app automatically sends a customizable auto-reply message to incoming texts*, letting your friends know you’re behind the wheel and will reply when it’s safe.”

2. Show Them The Dangers of Texting And Driving:  My son not only watches YouTube videos but also films and edit videos. So I decided that another step in his education would be to watch some of the videos from the “It Can Wait” Campaign that show the dangers of texting and driving. Seeing those stories on video really helped him visualize why texting while driving is 100% not acceptable.

3. Simulate The Dangers of Texting and Driving: The “It Can Wait” campaign has a game simulator that allows you to experience the dangers and consequences of texting and driving.  I had my son try the simulator at home and he was surprised because he thought (like many other teens) that he could text while also concentrating on all the various visual cues required to successfully drive.

How do you teach your kids not to text and drive? I am looking for new creative ways to add to my list!

 

Ford’s “Sync” Voice-Activated Calling and MyKey™ Auto Parental Controls

To provide some background for my interest in auto technologies : My husband and I
need to replace our 10 year old wagon with a new car. We are looking at
the Ford Hybrids, other Hybrids and dreaming of buying an electric car.
So this makes me even more interested to learn about the new auto
technologies available to help us in our decision process.

SYNC:

While at CES, I had the chance to have a demo of the Ford and Microsoft partnership created "Sync" that provides voice-activated, hands-free calling. Here is a link over to the Ford website with more details :

"Sync is a voice-activated, hands-free, in-car communications and entertainment system that fully integrates your Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phone and digital music player".

It will be offered on Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars , but can not be purchased after market:

"Sync will debut in fall 2007* on twelve 2008-model Ford, Lincoln and
Mercury models: Edge, Explorer, Five Hundred, Focus, Freestyle, Fusion,
Milan, MKX, MKZ, Montego, Mountaineer and Sport-Trac. Additional
Sync-equipped vehicles will be rolled out as quickly as possible
.".

The demo at CES was seamless, you get in the car with your cellphone – turn on the car – and Sync takes over all the functionality from your cellphone to provide a voice activated hand free experience. Functionality includes voice dialing from the phone's address book, navigation, weather and finding local businesses like restaurants all from a small screen located on the dashboard. To use Sync, the drive needs to have a cellphone in the car, that acts as the host to the technology. The IEEE Spectrum tech talk blog shared their opinion on some of the challenges, but I think this is a step in the right direction for integration of this type of functionality in cars instead of having to install separate gadgets or attach something like a hand sized GPS (that can be stolen) to a dashboard.

Here is the video demonstration of Ford Sync:

MyKey™ :

Watching the video is best way to understand how MyKey™ works.

Here are the details from the Ford Website on MyKey™ :

"a new technology that allows parents to limit the vehicle’s top
speed and audio volume – next year as standard equipment on the 2010
Ford Focus and many other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models.

MyKey, another affordable innovation from the company that
introduced SYNC™, also encourages safety-belt usage, provides earlier
low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and
65 miles per hour".

I joined a conference call for the DigiKnows Episode #1 An Insider’s Look at Ford MyKey™ to learn more about that technology. Here is the video from the live UStream discussion:


The UStream live discussion covered questions like "Would kids want big brother watching"? The answer was that if the kids are given the privilege of driving – that they would be ok with having auto limits set. Other good questions were on monitoring/reports – and the response is that the designers thought it was to big brother-ish so that is not currently available. Knowing that my 10 year old has already figured out how to de-install programs and tried to "de-install" the internet filtering controls on our computer – I would like to see some type of monitoring available.  I know that teens will not be happy about the volume controls, but there is plenty of information about how listening to loud music for a period of time can lead to hearing loss. That may be an "uncool" message but it is a valid issue.

Here are some of the links for more information:

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