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The Globe and Mail

Woof! New app shames texting drivers with endless barking

The annoying sound of a barking dog has helped an 11-year-old girl in California take home $20,000 (U.S.).

Victoria Walker, a sixth grader from Rancho Palos Verdes, won AT&T's It Can Wait hackathon earlier this month, a contest that challenged people to create applications to prevent people from driving while texting, a cause the company is fighting more broadly.

Walker was named the winner thanks to Rode Dog, an app she designed with the help of David Grau, who is a creative director and designer at WLDG, an interactive agency, The L.A. Times reports.

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The app enables users to create social network "packs" of friends and family who, using GPS technology, can tell if anyone else in their group is texting while they are behind the wheel. Commit that sin and the app will send you an incessant barking sound to get you off the phone and focusing on the road.

"This app allows me to protect my parents if they are driving and texting," Walker told the Times.

She said she got the idea for the app from hearing her three dogs bark, which obviously can be pretty annoying.

But if dogs don't do it for you, perhaps another animal will. The app makes other sounds – the roar of a lion, the cluck of a chicken – available to users.

Walker and Grau, who did not know each other before the hackathon, won from the group of 120 participants – among five finalists – to take the top prize, money that will be used to bring the app to market.

While the world waits, here's an idea: Barking sound or no barking sound, why don't you put that phone down while you're driving, okay?

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