A new gadget that plugs in to your car’s computer and syncs with a smartphone app will put that diagnosis power into the hands of the motorist, and will do much more, including notifying friends and family members if a car is involved in a crash and giving driver’s feedback about the quality of their driving.
The solution is called Automatic, and for $99.95 on the Automatic website or in any Apple stores, users can obtain the Automatic dongle that plugs in to most car computers (at least for most cars produced after 1996) and then download the Automatic app to start viewing data.
On their blog, the Automatic crew describe their product, which just became available this week, as such:
“Automatic is an iPhone app that pairs with a beautiful piece of intelligent hardware called the Automatic Link. The Link plugs into the OBD-II port of your car, connecting your phone to your car’s onboard computer while you drive. All cars since 1996 have an OBD-II port, and most cars are compatible with Automatic.
Automatic is a Smart Driving Assistant: It helps you adjust your driving habits to save gas, remembers where you parked, and helps you decode and clear your car’s ‘check engine’ light. Automatic can also detect many kinds of serious crashes, call for help, and alert loved ones, without an expensive subscription fee.”
The concept of being able to monitor my driving habits including my miles per gallon and braking habits, is very appealing. In recent months, I’ve driven several small “Smart” cars made available on my city by Car2Go. These cars have a feature on the dashboard console that gives drivers a score for the quality of their MPG, braking, and acceleration. Having such feedback for my driving has helped me know when I am driving too aggressively, and as a result, becomes a way to help be more efficient with gasoline. I anticipate that something like Automatic will do a great job of replicating that “Smart” car experience.