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April 3, 2013

Troy couple’s new cell phone App gives back seat driving tips

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Troy residents Mary and Dan Finkelstein hold the dashboard device that offers backseat driving tips.

Got room on your cellphone for a new app? A Troy couple hopes to take backseat driving to a whole new level and benefit the National Kidney Foundation.

When Dan Finkelstein was about to miss a freeway exit a few years ago, his wife, Mary, had no problem letting him know about it.

“It all started on a trip to North Carolina.  As we were passing through Akron, Ohio, on I-77, Dan’s cellphone rang. It was a call from a co-worker, so he answered the call. As the conversation increasingly consumed his attention, he moved into the left lane to pass slower-moving traffic. Being the navigator that I am, I was paying attention to the road signs and the directions being given by our car’s navigation system.  The navigation system was telling us to take an exit one mile ahead to stay on I-77.  The exit was on the right.  Dan was in the far left lane of a four-lane highway,” Mary said in an email. “Dan was deeply engrossed in his conversation, with only a quarter mile to go. That’s when I began motioning wildly and saying, ‘right lane,’ repeatedly. Since I had switched from navigator to ‘nag-avator,’ he heeded the advice, moved safely to the right lane and was able to exit on the ramp leading us south on I-77. That’s when we had the idea for Mary On Board, which is now a fun App.”

When Dan left his job at Unisys in 2009, he decided to bring Mary On Board to life and to market.

The electronic device offers 15 backseat driver sayings, including “Ask for directions” and “Slow down,” in English and Spanish, and it attaches to the dashboard with a suction-cup mount. The battery-operated device is button activated.

Dan recently expanded it to an app people can download for 99 cents in the Apple App Store or the Android market. 

Dan said the app is compatible with most Bluetooth devices.

“You can record your own voice and upload a photo,” he explained. “Everyone who sees it laughs.”

“Apps can be useful, but they should also be fun,” Mary said in an email. “We believe Mary On Board is both. Let Mary do the nagging for you and just enjoy the ride.”

For every 100 downloads, the Finkelsteins will donate $100 to the National Kidney Foundation in support of the kidney transplant Mary received in 1999 at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. She works as a counselor for Waterford Public Schools.

Mary said that, so far, they’ve donated a few hundred dollars to the National Kidney Foundation.

“I am so happy we can help the Kidney Foundation by selling this product,” she said in an email. “I am doing well, and I am pleased that I can give back in some way. I know how lucky I was to get a transplant. We hope to donate a lot more with the app.”

People can download the app at www.naggingtechnology.com and purchase the Mary On Board dashboard device at www.maryon board.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.