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Microsoft demos creepy car stalking system

Family micromanagement

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BUILD Windows Phone 7.5 and Azure are letting one Microsoft director stalk his kids while they’re on the road.

His Windows smartphone app allows a third party to track a car fitted with a Viper SmartStart GPS system and monitor its speed, location, engine revs and battery – or lock and shut down a vehicle if it’s stolen. Jeff Sandquist, senior director of developer relations for Microsoft and self-confessed car nut, said he loves the app because he can follow his daughter around remotely while she drives her VW Beetle.

“I love it when we can use technology to micromanage our families,” he said during a demo of the application at the BUILD conference in Anaheim, California. El Reg hopes for his sake Sandquist’s kids aren’t picking his retirement home.

Viper already has similar applications for the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android handsets, so Microsoft’s late to the party. But Redmond is linking the application into Azure to ensure that no matter where the driver goes someone will always be able to keep watch on them.

Sandquist also announced that Redmond is getting into the reality show market. It has commissioned the West Coast Customs body shop to build a car using Microsoft’s software and hardware, and the job will be televised on the Discovery Channel's "Inside West Coast Customs".

West Coast Customs has built vehicles for such luminaries as Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber, and it will be working with Microsoft to build in Kinect motion control, heads-up displays on the windscreen, and on-board computers for navigation and control.

“We’re taking a 2012 Mustang and dropping a 1967 body on it, blacking it out and building the supreme technology car,” the heavily tattooed Ryan Friedlinghaus, founder of West Coast Customs, told the crowd.

While the idea sounds interesting, El Reg has concerns. Bluescreening is bad enough at the desk, but slightly more serious when you’re flinging a couple of tons of car down the freeway. ®

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