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An Interview with Samantha Lee, CEO & Founder of Meili Technologies.

Hi Sam, we're so excited that you're able to join us at InCabin Brussels! I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your journey in the industry, and how you came to found Meili Technologies?

I founded Meili for my dad. he had severe epilepsy and, as a result, lost his driver’s license. We lived in a very rural area in Florida which didn’t have any public transportation so my dad had to catch rides with me and my mom to work, errands, etc. He wrote launch code for the space shuttle and was a super smart, technical guy. 

On these drives, we used to talk a lot about technology and what it could do to help people like him regain their independence. As I was leaving my last career, I reflected on these conversations and realised the industry still hadn’t addressed this need. So, I decided to build it myself.

That is a powerful story, thank you for sharing. Congratulations on your grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Office of Future Mobility and Electrification and the Michigan Department of Transportation! What does securing this investment mean to you, and what is the plan for the funds?

Thank you! This grant means so much to the team. It shows the state of Michigan loves what we’re building, and is excited to have that technology developed there. That kind of support means the world to us. We’re excited to use these funds to get started on a second home base in Michigan, engage more with our clients there, and hire local automotive expertise to help us build.

Can you tell us a bit more about Meili and what you'll be presenting on at the event?

I’ll be discussing ethical frameworks for driver monitoring systems at InCabin Brussels this year. This is a topic that is incredibly important to us at Meili. While our health emergency detection system for fleet and passenger vehicles helps everyone and makes roads safer as a whole, my inspiration for the company was, of course, my father and people like him who have pre-existing conditions that make driving more dangerous for them. Because of this, we design every aspect of the product with the end user in mind: to keep privacy, informed consent, and respect as pillars that everything else is built upon. I’m excited to share how we think about this at Meili with the rest of the industry.

The conversation around passenger privacy, consent and control is continuing to heat up as the regulatory landscape evolved, what do you think the future holds?

Of course it is! No one likes to feel like they’re being watched and criticized. With regulation like the EU’s NCAP requiring driver monitoring systems in conjunction with autonomy features like lateral steering and adaptive cruise control (very excited for Adriano Palao’s Keynote), this is going to become more and more important as we try to align this requirement with privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA. The industry has a long way to go to ensure drivers are comfortable with this technology and it is implemented with privacy and consent in mind. A lot of driver monitoring systems today an feel very “big brother”-like.

We’ll have to adopt a more empathetic approach and design these systems with informed consent and user data control at the forefront if we hope to see this technology – and autonomy, in general – adopted successfully and trusted by the general market.

Finally, we're really excited that you're joining us at InCabin again! What does the event mean to you?

I’m excited to be joining! After attending InCabin in Phoenix, I was amazed by how curated the event was for in-cabin monitoring focused professionals. It was incredible for Meili to be able to meet and exchange ideas with our peers in the industry who know this space best. You’re immediately on the same page on the exciting innovations and upcoming risks and challenges for in-cabin monitoring systems. There’s really nothing else like it.

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