Go to the video: Animating crashes on iPads
If you're unfortunate enough to be in a car accident, one of the things you'll be required to do is submit a diagram of the crash to your insurer. With today's technology the whole notion of using pen and paper for accident sketches appears to be going the way of the VHS tape format.
Drivers now have an arsenal of digital alternatives -- mobile apps, graphic software for computers and web-based tools such as Google Earth and Google Map Street Views -- that can be used to more accurately depict accidents. (See: "Car crash diagrams go digital.")
Some clever folks at USAA, the insurer for military personnel and their families, recently dialed digital diagrams up a notch. They've created a USAA app for iPad that lets members create videos by manipulating images on their iPad screens. The app also lets them verbally narrate the events of their accident at the same time they're moving the objects on the screen.
"From my own personal experience, explaining to someone over the phone what happened during a car crash can be a bit like guiding a blindfolded person through an obstacle course, " Joshua Leonard, the software developer for USAA who spearheaded the initiative, says in the USAA newsletter.
Leonard's team also included a feature that lets USAA members upload the accident video directly into their claims file.
Another cool thing about the app is that it was not a directive from the CEO or even the social media team. It was borne out of an annual "innovation competition" for USAA employees."Due to the novelty of this application, as well as the hard work our team put into it, we won the competition," says Leonard, "and garnered so much support that the prototype was turned into an official USAA project."
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's. Follow him on Twitter @destoups.