Snippet: I’m Excited About Automatic ☇

Shared on March 12, 2013

Federico Viticci profiles a new gadget over at MacStories:

Automatic will, essentially, use OBD data (which is typically accessed by mechanics when diagnosing engine faults or other problems) to monitor your car’s status and give you that information either on the iPhone’s screen or through audio notifications from a speaker on the Link. Automatic wants to primarily enable you to save gas by giving you suggestions and rating your driving style to drive more efficiently.

By collecting this data and detecting sudden breaks or accelerations (with a built-in accelerometer), Automatic will then display “scores”, mileage, and gas prices for your area in a “trip timeline” with a summary of your most recent driving sessions. Ultimately, Automatic says it’ll help you save money on gas by collecting and presenting data in a clean mobile interface; the concept isn’t too dissimilar from the Nest learning thermostat, but Automatic won’t be able to plug into your car’s engine directly – you’ll have to follow the software’s tips and change your habits, which is a big difference.

Because it runs on a phone, Automatic can leverage a device’s data connection and location services to do other things. For instance, Automatic can call 911 (or other local authorities) in case of crash, also offering to send a text to selected friends of family members (by pinging Automatic’s servers first); with GPS, the app can save your car’s location to remind you where you’ve parked your car or make car sharing simpler by letting friends know where they can find your car.

I think this is a compelling device/service combination, especially since I always am looking at more ways to make my phone and car play nicer together. I know cheaper options exist, but may not use Bluetooth Low Energy and require an app from someone else. The $70 price tag is still lower than many OBD-II readers on the market, and the service could give OnStar a run for its money.

Snippets are posts that share a linked item with a bit of commentary.