Rental agents take photos of the car's exterior from six different angles. These photos are reviewed by the customer, who must give approval by pressing either "Accept CDW" or "Decline CDW." When the photos are uploaded, before and after photos are compared to identify new damage.
Seven years ago, a team from VERC Car Rental had an idea: use cameras and Web technology to help recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in vehicle damage costs. By making this vision a reality, VERC reports it is eliminating pencil and paper condition reports, selling more coverage and increasing damage and fuel reimbursement.
To get from innovative idea to viable product, Jack Vercollone, owner of Massachusetts-based VERC Car Rental, partnered with ExtensionEngine, a Web and mobile software development firm headquartered at the Harvard Innovation Lab in Boston.
Teams from both companies explored solutions that used hard-mounted cameras combined with facial recognition technology, scanning techniques and picture overlays to find minor damage. These methods proved to be costly and complicated — and they presented problems such as false positives from mud, snow, ice and shadows.
A Breakthrough Idea
The team continued to brainstorm and, by introducing smartphones into the mix, came up with a breakthrough idea.
“The technology choices were evolving alongside our ideas,” explains Ofri Markus, ExtensionEngine’s director of product management and operations. “Once smartphones became affordable and accessible, the pieces began to fall into place.”
Matt Vercollone stepped in to work with ExtensionEngine’s team to push the final concept from drawing board to working model. The result is Damage ID (DID), a technology solution that flags damage using mobile devices to take photos of VERC’s vehicles in conjunction with a Web-based app.